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Epididymitis is a medical condition where the epididymis becomes inflamed. This condition may be mildly or very painful.



This is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection that is brought about by a variety of underlying conditions. Some cases of epididymitis are characterised by inflammation even when there is no infection. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause. The bacteria in the urethra back-track through the urinary and reproductive structures to the epididymis. It can also be caused by genito-urinary surgery, including prostatectomy , urinary catheterization, congenital kidney and bladder problems, and STDs, like Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia.

Acute epididymitis the most common form of epididymitis. It is typically treated with a regimen of antibiotics and bed rest.

Chronic epididymitis is epididymitis which lasts past the first treatment. Typically, a second, longer round of treatment is used. Chronic epididymitis is characterised by inflammation even when there is no infection present. This condition can develop even without the presence of the previously described known causes. It is believed that the hypersensitivity of certain structures, including nerves and muscles, may cause or contribute to chronic epididymitis. As a last resort, surgery may be employed.


Untreated, acute epididymitis can lead to a variety of complications. These include: chronic epididymitis, abscess, permanent damage or even destruction of the epididymis and testicle, and infection may spread to any other organ or system of the body.


Epididymitis can be hard to distinguish from testicular torsion. Sometimes, both can occur at the same time. Tests are needed to distinguish chronic epididymitis from a range of other disorders that can cause constant scrotal pain. These include: testicular cancer, enlarged scrotal veins (varicocele) or a cyst within the epididymis. Tests may also include a physical examination and ultrasound.

Consult a urologist.


Treatment options include: antibiotics, elevation of the scrotum, cold compresses applied regularly to the scrotum, hospitalisation in severe cases, check-ups to ensure the infection has cleared up.

Related topics


In a study Epididymitis in children: the circumcision factor? demonstrated with highly statistical significance that a relationship exists between epididymitis and the presence of a foreskin. It was found that an intact foreskin is an important etiological factor in boys with epididymitis.

Related terms

  1. diverticulum
  2. hydrocele
  3. orchitis
  4. rete tubular ectasia
  5. spermatocele
  6. testicular torsion
  7. tumor
  8. varicocele
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46