What is acute epididymitis?

Updated: Apr 04, 2018
  • Author: Michelle DiMare, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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The epididymis is a coiled, tubular structure located along the posterior aspect of the testis. It allows for the storage, maturation, and transport of sperm, connecting the efferent ducts of the testis to the vas deferens. Inflammation of the epididymis can be acute (1</ref> [2, 3, 4] An example of active inflammation of the epididymis is seen in the image below.

Most cases of epididymitis occur in males aged 20 to 39 years, and most cases are associated with a sexually transmitted disease. After 39 years of age, the most common causes are E coli and other coliform bacteria. In the United States, more than 600,000 men are affected annually.Reflux of urine into the ejaculatory ducts has been reported to be the most common cause of epididymitis in children younger than 14 years. [3, 4]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acute epididymitis consists of pain, swelling, and inflammation of the epididymis lasting less than 6 weeks. If the testis is involved, the condition is called epididymo-orchitis. In sexually active men older than 35 years, the most common cause is Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. [1, 5]

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