The futility of continued surveillance of epididymal cysts: A study of the prevalence and clinico-demographics in pre- vs. post-pubertal boys


  • Fardod O'Kelly The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids)
  • Kristen McAlpine
  • Nishard Abdeen
  • Melise A. Keays
  • Luis A. Guerra
  • Michael P. Leonard



Epididymal cysts, Surveillance, Cost, Pubertal


Introduction: The first description of epididymal cysts in children appears from a 1976 case study. Since then, there have been a total of 24 indexed publications relating to pediatric epididymal cysts. Risk factors that may exist for children presenting with epididymal cyst remain unknown, as has the best method of management. And there have not been any studies looking at the cost implications of this diagnosis. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence, clinico-demographics, outcomes, and costs of epididymal cysts in prepubertal boys compared with a post-pubertal epididymal cyst cohort, and to assess whether this cohort requires continued surveillance.

Methods: Our institutional ultrasound (US) database was searched for all scrotal US. From these, a filtered, institution review board-approved search was performed for any reports containing the word “cyst.” These were then cross-referenced with a retrospective chart review (October 2006 to September 2017). Clinicodemographics, cyst characteristics, and outcomes were analyzed for both pre- and post-pubertal boys using descriptive and nonparametric statistical methods.

Results: Of 4508 boys undergoing scrotal US during the study period, 191 were indicated to contain cysts. This was manually reduced to 109 scans (2.4%) that met inclusion criteria (85 pre-pubertal; 24 post-pubertal). Thirty-one scans were ordered by urology, including all those with abnormal testicular echotexture (n=5). The average age of the post-pubertal cohort was 15.8 years, compared with 3.8 years in the pre-pubertal cohort. Most (70.5%) epididymal cysts were incidental. There was no difference between the pre- and post-pubertal cohorts in terms of presence of hydroceles (p=0.9), symptoms (p=0.9), ordering service (p=0.61), rate of resolution (4.2% vs. 8.2%; p=0.68), or length of followup (4 vs. 4.5 years; p=0.44). Pre-pubertal cysts were significantly smaller in size (3.35 vs. 14.52 mm; p=0.025) and more likely to trigger repeat scanning (67 vs. 10; p=0.008). There were no operative interventions and no subsequent clinical deterioration occurred with observation. At a cost of $71.10 CAD per US, $15 002.10 CAD was expended on epididymal cyst surveillance in direct cost to the healthcare system.

Conclusions: Epididymal cysts are comparable in both pre- and post-pubertal boys and can be safely managed non-operatively without the use of continued US surveillance or urological referral. The higher than expected rate of detection may be a result of the improved ultra-resolution of modern scanners. These children should not require continued followup with repeat surveillance imaging solely for epididymal cysts and could be managed in the primary care setting as part of routine clinical examination.


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How to Cite

O’Kelly, F., McAlpine, K., Abdeen, N., Keays, M. A., Guerra, L. A., & Leonard, M. P. (2019). The futility of continued surveillance of epididymal cysts: A study of the prevalence and clinico-demographics in pre- vs. post-pubertal boys. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 13(12), E398–403.



Original Research