Objectives: Epididymal cystadenomas (ECs) are frequently found in association with von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL), but little has been reported about their sonographic appearance. We review the sonographic appearance of ECs, the relationship of ECs to other manifestations of VHL, and the specific genetic mutations associated with ECs.
Methods: Fifty-six male patients with VHL were examined with scrotal sonography and physical examination as part of a larger screening program for VHL. The head of the epididymis was measured in two planes on sonography and compared with age-matched normal controls. All VHL patients with palpable epididymal abnormalities or enlargement (more than two standard deviations) of the head of the epididymis on ultrasound were considered positive for EC.
Results: Thirty of 56 (54%) male patients with VHL demonstrated a unilateral (n = 10; 33%) or bilateral (n = 20; 67%) solid abnormality in the head of the epididymis suggestive of EC. Sonographic appearances ranged from a solid mass with multiple tiny cysts to an almost completely solid mass. The most common appearance was a 15- to 20-mm solid mass with small cystic components. Dilated efferent ductules were seen within the testicle in 7 men, evidently a result of chronic obstruction. There was no association between the clinical subtype of VHL and the presence of ECs (P > 0.10, chi square). Mutations resulting in a truncated gene product were associated with the development of ECs but the association did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.06).
Conclusions: ECs are a common manifestation of VHL in men and exhibit a range of appearances on ultrasound. Sonography can be used to identify ECs and determine the extent of cystic dilation of the rete testes. The benign course of ECs and the usual absence of clinical symptoms favor a conservative approach to their management.