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Orchitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Douglas Brum

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The diagnosis of acute orchitis is usually strongly suspected on the basis of a good physical examination. Chronic orchitis is usually more difficult to diagnose and may require further testing.

  • The complete blood count (CBC) evaluates the red and white blood cell lines. Elevations in the white blood cell are often present with inflammatory or infectious conditions. Many animals with acute orchitis have high white cell counts. A low red cell count indicates anemia and possibly a secondary condition.

  • The biochemical profile evaluates the metabolic status of a variety of organ systems. Since orchitis is a more common occurrence on older animals, it is a useful screening test to rule out other problems and or associated disease. Liver and kidney function are evaluated. Blood sugar and electrolytes are also checked to provide a good overall assessment of the general condition of the patient. In dogs with severe acute orchitis and sepsis, hypoglycemia (a low blood sugar) and elevated liver enzymes may be seen.

  • Animals with orchitis commonly have urinary tract infections. These infections can be the cause of the testicular infection or a result of the infection. Your veterinarian will check the urine for signs of infection and prescribe an antibiotic for long-term care.

  • All dogs with orchitis, either acute or chronic, should be tested for Brucella. The serology blood tests are an easy screening test. The rapid slide agglutination test identifies negative animals with accuracy (but positives need to be rechecked). The tube agglutination test is more specific for Brucellosis, but is still not definitive. Test results should be interpreted with the help of your veterinarian and may need to be repeated.

  • Blood cultures are occasionally submitted if a bacterial infection appears to have spread into the blood. Brucellosis is occasionally diagnosed on blood cultures.

  • Fungal serology is a blood test that is occasionally useful if a fungal infection is suspected. This is a rare condition, and generally limited to certain geographic locations. Animal with these infections usually have systemic fungal disease (affecting multiple organ systems), and clinical signs relating to more generalized illness.

  • Cytologic examination of the semen is useful in confirming a diagnosis of orchitis. The sample is obtained via an ejaculate. Unfortunately, even though this is a good diagnostic test, it is rarely done. Affected dogs with acute disease are generally painful and uncooperative, and dogs with the chronic disease usually have significantly decreased libidos.

  • Testicular aspiration will usually show signs of infection, with white blood cells and bacteria seen on cytology. An animal may need to be sedated for the procedure. Testicular abscesses that are aspirated may yield a large amount of purulent (pus filled) fluid.

  • An ultrasound may occasionally be useful diagnosing orchitis. It is especially useful for ruling out a scrotal torsion. Animals with a scrotal torsion may be very painful and have a swollen scrotum, thus appearing as if it is orchitis. The ultrasound is a non-invasive test that allows your veterinarian to visualize the structures with in the scrotum. An ultrasound is also used to distinguish between testicular tumors, abscesses and hernias.

  • The definitive method of diagnosing orchitis is by biopsy of the affected testicle, and submitting the tissue for histopathic analysis. Almost always, if a biopsy is done it is combined with a castration. This allows for both diagnosis and treatment in a single procedure.

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