Testicular compartment syndrome: an overview of pathophysiology, etiology, evaluation, and management
Testicular compartment syndrome (TCS) refers to the impairment of microcirculation in the testicle due to either increased venous resistance or extraluminal compression, which leads to hypoxia. TCS releases oxidants through hypoxia and ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI). The pathophysiology, etiology, evaluation, and management of TCS are reviewed. Based on the properties of TCS, specific causes, e.g., varicocele, hydrocele, orchitis, cryptorchidism, and scrotal hernia, are suggested and categorized. The oxidant-induced stress from TCS may explain the correlations between these causes and infertility. A chief shortcoming of current imaging modalities is that they detect TCS late after it has progressed to impair the macrocirculation of the testicle. We propose frequent sequential periodic power Doppler ultrasonography to monitoring for earlier detection. Intraoperatively, TCS can be diagnosed by the dull purple appearance of a hypoxic testicle and by tissue pressures above 30 mmHg. When compartment pressure is low, the underlying etiology must be promptly treated. During acute presentation, an incision of the resilient tunica albuginea may be necessary. A great challenge of treating TCS is restoring microcirculation while minimizing IRI; concomitant antioxidant therapy secondary to treatment may be effective and harmless at the least. Because testicular oxidant stress is common in infertility and since TCS can cause such a stress, TCS may be a larger factor in infertility than currently suspected.