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Epididymitis and Orchitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Because the testis and epididymis are in close apposition, any inflammatory or infectious process involving one usually involves the other, although on occasion, isolated orchitis or epididymitis may be seen. The onset of disease may be acute (sudden onset over a short period of time) or chronic (slower onset over weeks or months).

Orchitis and epididymitis have many possible causes, and typically, bacteria are involved. Individuals may have no clinical signs, or they may be quite ill and painful. Several other disease processes need to be considered and often present with similar clinical signs.

  • Inguinoscrotal hernia is the herniation, or abnormal protrusion, of abdominal contents through the inguinal canal into the scrotum. These individuals usually have scrotal enlargement.

  • Scrotal dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin covering the scrotum. These dogs often lick excessively at the scrotal area, which can be quite inflamed and painful.

  • Testicular neoplasia, or cancer, often manifests itself by testicular enlargement, sometimes asymmetry, and occasional infertility. The most common testicular tumor types include Sertoli cell tumors, seminomas and interstitial cell tumors.

  • Testicular torsion is a twisting of the spermatic cord, blockage of venous blood from the testis with subsequent engorgement, and necrosis (death) of associated tissue. These individuals are often exquisitely painful, may be incapable of walking, and present for severely inflamed, swollen testes.

  • Testicular or epididymal abscesses often appear identical to orchitis and epididymitis. They are often differentiated by biopsy of the testicle itself.

  • Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate. Individuals with prostatitis often have a variety of clinical signs. These need to be considered and/or differentiated from epididymitis and orchitis, especially when there is swelling or change in these structures.

  • Cystitis is an inflammation of the urinary bladder. Occasionally, this is associated with epididymitis and orchitis and may have similar signs.

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