23 October 2019

Man who left scrotum to swell and rot for years, had to have it amputated after it dangled below his knees

A man, who suffered from lymphoedema of the scrotum for 30 years, had to have it removed after he developed severe swelling and gangrene.

A 43-year-old man from Panama was forced to have his scrotum removed and the entire region reconstructed after he suffered swelling so severe that his scrotum hung below his knees and literally started to rot.

According to a case study in the Urology Case Reports, the patient suffered from severe lymphoedema of the scrotum over the period of 30 years. He was unable to walk or carry out day-to-day tasks.

Blockage of the lymph glands

When he presented to a hospital in Panama, he had a fever and CT scans of his abdomen and bowel revealed a massive hernia, which was left untreated and led to restriction of fluids, which caused the swelling in the area, which was diagnosed as lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema is the swelling in a limb caused by a blockage of the lymph glands that are left unable to drain lymph fluid from a certain area. This is usually caused by cancer, infections or inflammation, and in this case the massive hernia was the culprit.

 The skin of the patient’s scrotum was thickened and started to show signs of Fournier’s gangrene, which can be life-threatening. Two open wounds on the scrotum emitted foul-smelling pus. This increased the man’s risk of sepsis and doctors made the decision to remove the infected tissue and reconstruct the area.

Penis remained intact

The swelling measured 30.2cm x 24.4cm x 13.1cm.

As the surgical team removed the infected skin and tissue, further open wounds were found under the skin. The swelling was so severe that the man’s penis was buried inside the swollen scrotum. It took two surgical procedures to remove all of the dead flesh.

The testicles were removed, but the patient’s penis remained intact and a skin graft was done. 

The patient received antibiotics through IV for a further five days in hospital, then spent a further four weeks in a rehabilitation centre, and is on his way to recovery, according to the report.

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules