Surgery Overview

Orchiectomy is the removal of one or both testicles (testes). The
testicles are the male sex organs that produce sperm and the male hormone,
testosterone.

An orchiectomy is a common treatment for
testicular cancer. It may also be done to treat other
conditions such as
prostate cancer or in the event of severe trauma to
one or both testes.

When this surgery is done for testicular cancer, it is called a radical inguinal orchiectomy. It is called “radical” because the entire spermatic cord is removed as well as the testicle itself. And it is called “inguinal” because the testicle is removed through a small cut (incision) made in the lower abdomen (groin).

During the procedure, after the cut is made, the testicle is pushed up from the scrotum
through the incision and removed. The surgery is usually finished in less
than an hour.

What To Expect After Surgery

Orchiectomy can be done as an outpatient procedure or with a short
hospital stay. Regular activities are usually resumed within 1 to 2 weeks. And
a full recovery can be expected within 2 to 4 weeks.

Why It Is Done

Orchiectomy is always done when testicular cancer is
suspected. This is because testicular lumps are often cancerous and must be
removed as part of treatment. Also, performing a biopsy on a testicle before it
is surgically removed can cause cancer cells to spread, making successful
treatment more difficult.

Sometimes bilateral orchiectomy (removal of both testes) is
needed, though this is rare.

How Well It Works

Orchiectomy is the most effective way to remove cancerous tumors of
the testicles. In some cases, orchiectomy is followed by additional surgery to
remove cancer that has spread or by
other therapies such as
chemotherapy or
radiation therapy.

In some cases of early-stage testicular cancer, orchiectomy is the
only treatment needed and is followed only with a surveillance program.
Surveillance is a period of time during which your doctor watches you closely with checkups and testing but without using
medical treatment.

Testicular cancer is a very curable form of cancer, especially if
it is diagnosed and treated at an early stage. Orchiectomy is important to the
successful treatment of this disease and offers the best chance for cure.

Risks

Orchiectomy surgery is relatively low-risk, and complications are
uncommon. But orchiectomy carries all the risks of any major surgery,
including:

  • Reactions to anesthesia or
    medicines.
  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.

Bilateral orchiectomy (removal of both testes) is rarely done and
carries the possibility of side effects. They are related to the loss of
testosterone following the removal of both testes. These include:

  • Infertility.
  • Loss of sexual
    interest.
  • Erection problems.
  • Hot flashes.
  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia).
  • Weight gain.
  • Loss of muscle mass.
  • Osteoporosis.

What To Think About

In most cases, orchiectomy does not result in long-term
sexual side effects or infertility, though it may increase these problems if
they were present before the surgery. If a man has one healthy testicle, he
should not notice any negative change in his quality of life. Men who do not
have one normally functioning testicle after orchiectomy will need to take
hormone therapy to fulfill the body’s need for testosterone.

Some men choose to have a prosthetic testicle(s). After an
orchiectomy, the surgeon places the artificial testicle(s) in the scrotum to
maintain the natural appearance of the genitals.

If you have any questions or concerns about this surgery, talk to
your doctor.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS – Urology, Oncology

Current as ofMay 3, 2017