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What is an orchiectomy?

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Quick Answer

An orchiectomy involves removing one or both testicles, which are male organs that produce spermatozoa and testosterone, according to WebMD. This operation does not remove the external pouch that holds the testicles — the scrotum — or the penis.

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Full Answer

A complete orchiectomy stops the production of testosterone, preventing the growth of prostate cancer, states WebMD. Removing a testicle also prevents cancer cells from spreading, making a biopsy performance successful. In some cases, additional surgery and treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy follow the orchiectomy.

A radical inguinal orchiectomy is a common type of orchiectomy and involves making a cut in the groin and removing the testicles from the scrotum for examination, states Healthline. A pathologist analyzes a tissue sample for abnormalities, and if the tissue is noncancerous or benign, the doctor returns the testicle to the scrotum. The doctor does not return the testicle if the tissue is cancerous or malignant but removes the spermatic cord to prevent the cancerous cells from spreading to other parts of the body.

Patients resume their usual activities within one to two weeks, and full recovery time can vary between two and four weeks, reports WebMD. Complications of orchiectomy are not common, but if present, include bleeding, infection and reactions to medicines or anesthesia. A person may experience loss of sexual interest and muscle mass, infertility and erection problems if the operation involves removing both testicles.

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