Prevalence and Management of Incidental Small Testicular Masses Discovered on Ultrasonographic Evaluation of Male Infertility

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We report the safety of surveillance of small testicular masses incidentally discovered during evaluation of male infertility.

Materials and Methods:

We retrospectively reviewed a prospectively collected database to identify patients with male infertility found to have incidental small testicular masses (hypoechoic lesions less than 10 mm) on scrotal ultrasound. The men were offered close surveillance with interval imaging and office followup. Patient and imaging characteristics were collected to compare the surveillance and surgical groups with additional comparisons between benign and malignant pathologies to elucidate predictors of underlying malignancy.


Of 4,088 men in whom scrotal ultrasound was completed for male infertility evaluation 120 (2.9%) were found to have a subcentimeter testicular mass. Average followup was 1.30 years (range 0.1 to 16.9). A total of 18 men (15%) proceeded to extirpative surgery while 102 remained on surveillance at last followup. In those with at least 1 month of followup the mean lesion growth rate was –0.01 mm per year. Reasons for surgery included testicular exploration for infertility, mass growth, positive tumor markers, history of testis cancer, concerning imaging characteristics and patient choice. Six of the 18 men who underwent surgery were found to have malignancy, which was seminoma in all. All malignant lesions were greater than 5 mm on initial imaging and demonstrated vascularity, although size and vascularity were not significantly different from those of benign lesions on final pathology findings. No patients demonstrated advanced or recurrent disease.


Small testicular masses are not uncommon, especially in the infertile male population. Most of these masses do not show significant growth during long-term evaluation and can be safely surveilled with close followup.

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