Orchiectomy is a procedure in which one or both the male testicles are surgically removed. This procedure is also known as the orchidectomy. When both the testicles are removed, this procedure is known as the bilateral orchiectomy. Also known as castration or emasculation as the male is no longer able to reproduce. The testicles help in producing the testosterone hormone. Hence this procedure aims at the stoppage of the production of this hormone and hence is also a hormonal therapy.
The purpose of an orchiectomy is to treat cancer or to lower the level of testosterone in the body. This is usually done in cases of prostate cancer as it uses testosterone to grow rapidly in the body. This procedure can reduce the pain and causes the tumor to shrink all thought it does not cure prostate cancer.
Orchiectomy is usually done to prevent complications, relieve the symptoms and prolong the survival of patients with prostate cancer. During orchiectomy procedure the penis, the scrotum and the skin pouch that carries the testicles are left intact. This procedure can cause sudden hormonal changes in the body.
This procedure can have the following side effects due to sudden hormonal changes:
-loss of sexual interest
-osteoporosis (porous, weak bones)
-gynecomastia (condition which results in large breast development in men)
-loss of the overall muscle mass of the body
An orchiectomy procedure is indicated when a testicular tumor is suspected. The patient may present with a firm, painless, irregular mass arising from the testicles. To confirm if the mass is cancerous a Doppler ultrasonography of the scrotum should be done.
Orchiectomy procedure is generally performed by an urologist. This procedure can be performed under local or general anesthesia. An incision of 4-6 centimeters is taken in the abdomen over the pubic bone area. The testicles are detached from the blood vessels and the spermatic cord (vas deferens). The sac is then sutured back together. This procedure can be done in a short hospital stay or as an outpatient procedure. One can resume regular activities in about 1-2 weeks after the surgery. Full recovery can be expected within 4-5 weeks.
After the surgery to reduce the post operative swelling, ice packs should be applied over the scrotum area for the next 48 hours post surgery. The operation sight should be kept clean and dry all the time. The operation sight should be washed and cleaned properly with a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide. The doctor may also recommend an antibiotic ointment. The patient should avoid any kind of strenuous activity during the healing period.
Orchiectomy is contraindicated in people suffering from congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
The possible complication of the orchiectomy procedure is post operative bleeding and infection which occurs in rare cases.
The advantage of this procedure is that it is a simple, inexpensive and has few risks involved. This procedure is very effective and the patient often shows rapid relief from cancer symptom.
Some men prefer the use of testicular prosthesis which makes the testicles look as they did before the operative procedure. These are placed inside the scrotum.
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