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  IN THIS Article
 ::  Abstract
 :: Introduction
 :: Case Report
 :: Discussion
 :: Conclusions
 ::  References
 ::  Article Figures

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  Table of Contents     
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 202-204

Splenogonadal fusion mimicking a testis tumor

1 Department of Urology, S. Pio da Pietrelcina Hospital, Vasto (CH), Italy
2 Department of Pathology, S. Pio da Pietrelcina Hospital, Vasto (CH), Italy

Date of Submission17-May-2013
Date of Decision05-Jul-2013
Date of Acceptance24-Jan-2014
Date of Web Publication13-May-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. P Sountoulides
Department of Urology, S. Pio da Pietrelcina Hospital, Vasto (CH)
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0022-3859.132350

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 :: Abstract 

The presence of ectopic splenic tissue in the scrotum is attributed to splenogonadal fusion, a rare congenital anomaly. This ectopic splenic tissue can be an incidental finding or less often present as a scrotal mass later in adult life. Given the rarity of splenogonadal fusion, especially in the adult population, this case highlights the clinical characteristics of the condition, with a special focus on the signs and findings that might help prevent unnecessary orchiectomy.

Keywords: Ectopic spleen, orchiectomy, splenogonadal fusion, testicular mass

How to cite this article:
Sountoulides P, Neri F, Bellocci R, Schips L, Cindolo L. Splenogonadal fusion mimicking a testis tumor. J Postgrad Med 2014;60:202-4

How to cite this URL:
Sountoulides P, Neri F, Bellocci R, Schips L, Cindolo L. Splenogonadal fusion mimicking a testis tumor. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Sep 26];60:202-4. Available from:

 :: Introduction Top

Splenogonadal fusion (SGF) is a rare congenital anomaly characterized by an abnormal connection of splenic tissue with the gonads or mesonephric remnants. Although the condition usually presents during childhood, there have been reports of SGF in adults, as incidental findings at scrotal surgery or even more importantly, as scrotal masses. A preoperative diagnosis of this condition can be challenging, as the results of imaging studies are equivocal; thus many of the reported cases have been managed with radical orchiectomy. We will describe a case of SGF mimicking a testis tumor and discuss the clinical characteristics of this condition in terms of diagnosis and surgical management.

 :: Case Report Top

A 31-year-old male presented to the Andrology Outpatient Clinic for concerns about fertility. The physical examination of his genital area was normal. Examination of the scrotum, however, revealed a palpable, solid, hard, but painless nodule on the upper pole of his left testicle. The right testis was normal to palpation. The patient denied any history of trauma, scrotal surgery or other intervention and his family history was negative for testicular tumors or any other genetic abnormalities. Scrotal ultrasonography (US) was performed to delineate the nature of the nodule. The US showed a hypoechoic, well-circumscribed lesion, 2.7 to 2.2 cm in diameter, adjacent to the epididymis [Figure 1]. A Color Doppler Ultrasound revealed the higher vascularity of the lesion compared to the testis. The findings were deemed highly suspicious for a testicular tumor. The molecular markers for germ cell tumors were negative and the sperm count was normal.
Figure 1: Scrotal ultrasonography showing a hypoechoic mass of 2.2 to 2.7 cm, in close proximity to the left epididymis

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The patient was consulted about the possibility of a testicular malignancy and gave consent for a scrotal exploration and possible removal of the affected testicle depending on the intraoperative findings.

Via an inguinal incision, the tunica vaginalis was opened and a red-purple mass of approximately 2 × 2 cm was noted encapsulated within the tunica albuginea of the upper pole of the testis. A smooth cord-like structure, arising from the upper part of the lesion, was noted within the tunica vaginalis, connecting the primary lesion with a secondary, smaller, lesion of the same physical characteristics, and then continuing into the inguinal canal [Figure 2]. The testis, epididymis, and spermatic cord were normal in appearance and not suspicious for malignancy on palpation. For this reason and due to the fact that the lesion was clearly distinct from the scrotal components, no intraoperative frozen sections from the testis or epididymis were taken.
Figure 2: The testis is brought out of the inguinal incision, and the tunica vaginalis is opened. A cord-like structure connects the ectopic splenic tissue, attaching the upper pole of the testicle to a smaller accessory splenic tissue. The cord-like structure then enters the inguinal canal representing a continuous type splenogonadal fusion

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A decision was made to dissect and excise the two lesions and spare the testicle. The smaller lesion and the cord-like structure were easily dissected between two Kelly clamps, while the larger lesion attached to the testis was dissected off the testicular parenchyma using cautery. The surface of the testicle was then reconstructed using 3-0 absorbable sutures [Figure 3] and the testicle was repositioned into the scrotal sac. The patient was discharged on the first postoperative day.
Figure 3: The ectopic spleen has been dissected off the testicular parenchyma and the defect is closed using 2-0 Vicryl sutures

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The pathology report of the two masses revealed the presence of accessory mature splenic tissue, with no signs of malignancy [Figure 4], representing a continuous type SGF.
Figure 4: Hematoxylin and Eosin staining [x 20], shows an ectopic mature splenic tissue (left upper corner) and seminiferous tubules (right lower corner) separated by a fibrous capsule

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 :: Discussion Top

Splenogonadal fusion (SGF) is a rare congenital anomaly, characterized by the abnormal connection of the splenic tissue with the gonads or mesonephric remnants. [1] The involved primordial organs, the splenic anlage in the dorsal mesogastrium, and the gonadal ridge between the mesonephros and dorsal mesentery are formed between five and six weeks of gestation. At week five, as the dorsal mesogastrium rotates to the left, the splenic anlage lies in close proximity to the left gonadal ridge. Inflammation or adhesions of the peritoneal surface of the spleen possibly lead to the fusion of these primordial organs and the subsequent caudal migration. [2],[3]

The condition involves young males, as more than 70% of the patients are younger than 20 and approximately 50% are pediatric patients. [4]

There are two types of SGF: Continuous and discontinuous. In the continuous type, there is a direct anatomic connection between the native spleen and the ectopic splenic tissue through a cord of splenic or fibrous tissue. In the discontinuous type, the ectopic splenic tissue is attached only to the gonad without any attachment to the native spleen. [1],[5] The scrotal splenic tissue is usually encapsulated within the tunica vaginalis or albuginea, but it is clearly distinct from the gonadal tissue.

Almost one of two patients with continuous-type SGF presents with a congenital disorder, with cryptorchidism, (31%) limb defects, and micrognathia being the most common. The less common anomalies include cardiac, lung, and intestinal defects, spina bifida, and craniosynostosis. [2],[3] In our case of continuous-type SGF, however, no congenital anomaly was present.

Discontinuous-type SGF is rarely associated with congenital abnormalities, although there are reports of SGF associated with infertility, testicular aplasia, and atrophy. [4],[6],[7]

Regardless of its type, SGF is usually an incidental finding during groin exploration for cryptorchidism or hernia repair. SGF in adults may present as painful, [8] or as in our case, painless, scrotal enlargement of undifferentiated origin, and for that reason, it is usually recognized following radical inguinal orchiectomy for suspected neoplasia. [8],[9]

The left testis is almost always affected, as in our case, due to the anatomical proximity of the spleen with the left gonad during embryogenesis. [1]

The role of imaging studies in the diagnosis of SGF is controversial. US findings are variable and inconclusive, especially in cases of discontinuous SGF, where the diagnosis is usually confirmed following orchiectomy. [5] US findings suggestive of a continuous type SGF include the detection of an intra-abdominal band of hypoechoic tissue originating from the affected testis and extending cranially toward the spleen. [4]

Although rarely performed preoperatively, a contrast-enhanced CT scan may reveal a cord-like tissue between the spleen and the left scrotal mass, a finding compatible with continuous type splenogonadal fusion (SGF). [8]

On the basis of a strong suspicion, the diagnosis may be confirmed by MRI or a technetium-99m sulfur colloid liver - spleen scan. On MRI, T2-weighted imaging sequence will demonstrate an isointense tubular structure connecting the spleen to the testis. [4],[5]

In our case, preoperative axial imaging was not deemed necessary as this was considered to be a straightforward case for scrotal exploration due to the high level of suspicion for malignancy.

With regard to the possibility of malignancy associated with SGF in adults, the fourth case since 1980, of a tumor arising within an SGF was recently reported. [10] Interestingly, all four cases were associated with cryptorchidism and infertility, both known etiological factors for testicular malignancy. Therefore, a cause and effect relationship between SGF and malignancy cannot be established.

However, in order to avoid an unnecessary orchiectomy in cases where malignancy is a concern an inguinal incision with control of the cord, inspection, and possible biopsy of the mass are recommended.

 :: Conclusions Top

Splenogonadal fusion remains differential in the diagnosis of a scrotal mass. Suspicion should be aroused in cases of left-sided masses that are attached, but are clearly distinct from the testis and associated with congenital anomalies. Confirmation of the nature of the lesion with the aid of US or MRI, coupled with clinical findings, will likely limit the operative intervention to partial orchidectomy or enucleation of the splenic tissue, as in the case presented.

 :: References Top

1.Floyd MS Jr, Dowling CM, Power RE, O'Bien A, Gibney RG, Quinlan DM. Ectopic splenic tissue presenting as a scrotal mass. Ir J Med Sci 2007;176:141-2.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Khairat AB, Ismail AM. Splenogonadal fusion: Case presentation and literature review. J Pediatr Surg 2005;40:1357-60.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Lin CS, Lazarowicz JL, Allan RW, Maclennan GT. Splenogonadal fusion. J Urol 2010;184:332-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Keyik B, Yanik B, Conkbayir I, Tuygun C, Kizilgoz V, Hekimoðlu B. Continuous-type splenogonadal fusion associated with an ipsilateral testicular atrophy: Sonographic findings. J Clin Ultrasound 2010;38:161-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Varma DR, Sirineni GR, Rao MV, Pottala KM, Mallipudi BV. Sonographic and CT features of splenogonadal fusion. Pediatr Radiol 2007;37:916-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Hizli F, Uygur MC, Irkkan C. Splenogonadal fusion: Report of a case. Int J Urol 2005;12:591-2.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Ando S, Shimazui T, Hattori K, Yamamoto T, Kuriyagawa K, Akaza H. Splenogonadal fusion: Case report and review of published works. Int J Urol 2006;13:1539-41.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Ikeda A, Nakatsu H, Suzuki Y. Case of splenogonadal fusion in an adult. Int J Urol 2010;17:826-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Alivizatos G, Skolarikos A, Sopilidis O, Ferakis N, Chorti M. Splenogonadal fusion: Report of a case and review of the literature. Int J Urol 2005;12:90-2.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Lopes RI, de Medeiros MT, Arap MA, Cocuzza M, Srougi M, Hallak J. Splenogonadal fusion and testicular cancer: Case report and review of the literature. Einstein (Sao Paulo) 2012;10:92-5.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

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