Colour Doppler ultrasonography replacing surgical exploration for acute scrotum: myth or reality?
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Background: Traditionally, every patient with an acute scrotum needed surgical exploration for definitive exclusion of testicular torsion. Objective: In this study, we aimed to evaluate the improved accuracy in clinical diagnosis with colour Doppler Ultrasonography (US) added to normal clinical assessment. Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed 626 patients, who presented with acute scrotal pain between January 1998 and June 2004. Following history and physical examination, the patients either proceeded directly to surgery or underwent US examination. If clinical suspicion of testicular torsion persisted after US, the patients would still undergo scrotal exploration. Results: Of the 294 patients who had routine scrotal exploration without preliminary US, only 23 (7.8%) were found to have testicular torsion. Amongst the 332 cases that had initial US, 9 (2.7%) patients revealed testicular torsion that was confirmed at subsequent surgery. The remaining 323 patients had initial negative US, but 29 were explored eventually on clinical indications. Of these, 4 (1.2% of 323) cases were diagnosed intra-operatively as testicular torsion. None of the remaining 294 patients who were managed conservatively proved to have testicular torsion after a minimum follow-up of 2 weeks. For testicular torsion, US yielded a sensitivity of 69.2% (95% confidence interval =38.9–89.5), specificity of 100% (95% CI=98.5–100), positive predictive value of 100% and negative predictive value of 97.5%. Conclusions: US has proven to decrease the number of emergency scrotal explorations, length of hospital stay and hence reduce the cost of management of acute scrotum.