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The diagnostic challenge of a tuberculous cold abscess of the epididymis: a case report


August 2022: Published in African Journal of Urology


While genitourinary tuberculosis is a common form of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis, cold abscess of the epididymis is rare with our literature search finding no reports from the West African subregion. Where the index of suspicion is low, diagnosis is missed and unnecessary surgery may be performed on suspicion of a tumour. The aim of this case report is to highlight the diagnostic challenges of this condition in resource-limited settings in order to create awareness within the health community, increase the chance of appropriate diagnosis, thereby facilitating early commencement of treatment so as to avoid needless testicular loss or complications, such as infertility.

Case Presentation

A 33-year-old Black African College-educated public service employee resident in Abuja, Nigeria, presented with a one-week history of right scrotal pain and swelling. Genital examination revealed a firm, non-tender epididymal mass which was initially mistaken for a malignancy. There were no constitutional symptoms, and the contralateral testis was normal. The swelling involved only the epididymis. The testis was distinctly palpable but not oedematous. There was some hemi-scrotal oedema. Blood count and urine cultures were normal. Ultrasound scan showed a hypoechogenic, uniformly enlarged epididymis. Testicular tumour markers were negative. However, CT-abdomen showed enlarged para-caval and pelvic nodes which were thought to be due to secondary deposits from a testicular tumour. Scrotal swelling was later found to be due to an abscess of the epididymis at surgery. Histology showed caseous granulomas typical of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Gene-Xpert, a cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test, later confirmed that patient had tuberculosis, for which he is being treated.


The differential diagnosis of an epididymal cold abscess from testicular tumour or chronic epididymitis can be challenging. Therefore, a high index of suspicion as well as a complete tuberculosis screen is essential in an apparently healthy patient presenting with a chronic epididymal swelling.


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Cold abscess, Epididymitis, Genitourinary tuberculosis, Gene-Xpert, Case report


Dr C. U. Undie | Dr Paul Jibrin | Dr Nnanna Ibanga Ewomazino | Raymond Kalenebari Torporo

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