Orchiectomy is a surgery to remove one or both testicles.
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Reasons for Procedure
An orchiectomy may be done to treat:
- Prostate cancer that has spread
- Testicular cancer
- Testicular torsion —twisting of the spermatic cord that cuts off the blood supply
- Other problems such as testicular damage from trauma or infection
It can also be a diagnostic procedure to determine if cancer is present when a mass is found during ultrasound.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Nerve injury or damage to surrounding tissue or structures
- Reaction to anesthesia
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- A physical exam
- Imaging, blood, and urine tests
- Talk about anesthesia and the potential risks
Talk to the doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
Other things to keep in mind before the procedure:
- Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
- In most cases, you will need to avoid eating and drinking for 6-8 hours before the procedure. Ask your doctor when you should stop eating and drinking.
Description of Procedure
You will be prepared for surgery. The genital area will be shaved and sterilized.
Once you are asleep, the doctor will make a small incision in the groin area or in the scrotum. The testicle is pulled up from the scrotal sac. The cord that connects the testicle to the scrotum is clamped and sutured. The testicle is removed. Absorbable stitches will be used to close all incision areas.
A prosthetic testicle is sometimes placed into the scrotum. This can be done at the time of the surgery or at a later date.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1-2 hours depending on how much surgery is needed
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
At the Care Center
The staff may provide the following care to make you more comfortable and help your recovery:
- Pain medications and IV fluids
- Ice pack and other scrotal support
You will be able to leave when the anesthesia has worn off and you can walk.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incisions
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- Walking and light activity is important. Avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for a few weeks.
- Swelling and soreness is normal. Use ice packs as advised. Your doctor may recommend that you wear snug-fitting underwear or an athletic supporter for the first few days.
- Ask your doctor when you can resume sexual activity.
- Follow incision care instructions to avoid infection.
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
- Increasing pain, discharge, redness, or swelling at the incision site
- Pus or odor from the incision site
- A lot of bleeding
- Stitches loosen or fall out
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Testicular Cancer Resource Center
Urology Care Foundation
Orchiectomy surgery. St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton website. Available at: http://www.stjoes.ca/patients-visitors/patient-education/patient-education-k-o/pd-6660-orchiectomy-surgery.pdf. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Testicular cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T907377/Testicular-cancer. Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Testicular cancer treatments: the inguinal orchiectomy. Testicular Cancer Resource Center website. Available at: http://tcrc.acor.org/orch.html. Updated December 9, 2012. Accessed December 18, 2017.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 12/18/2017