An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) is a testicle that hasn't moved into its proper position in the bag of skin hanging below the penis (scrotum) before birth. This is a condition seen in some newborn baby boys.
Usually just one testicle is affected, but in about 10% of cases both testicles are undescended. The testicle may lie in the groin or in severe cases within the abdomen. The undescended testicle moves into the proper position on its own, within the first 3 months of life. If your son has an undescended testicle that doesn’t correct itself by 3 months of age, surgery will be needed.
Not seeing or feeling a testicle where you would expect it to be in the scrotum is the main sign of an undescended testicle. In such a case it is advisable to meet a pediatric surgeon.
Treating an undescended testicle when your son is still a baby might lower the risk of complications later in life, such as infertility and testicular cancer.
Older boys — from infants to pre-adolescent boys — who have normally descended testicles at birth might appear to be “missing” a testicle later. This condition might indicate:
The exact cause of an undescended testicle isn’t known. A combination of genetics, maternal health and other environmental factors might disrupt the hormones, physical changes and nerve activity that influence the development of the testicles.
In order for testes to develop and function normally, they need to be slightly cooler than normal body temperature. The scrotum provides this cooler environment. Complications of a testicle not being located where it is supposed to be include:
Testicular torsion occurs 10 times more often in UDT than in normal testicles.
UDT is easily diagnosed by clinical examination by the pediatric surgeon. Sometimes, ulrasound , CT scan or MRI may be needed for diagnosis.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. In many cases, the testes descend on their own into the scrotum by age 3 months. In other cases surgery (Orchidopexy) is the treatment modality. The ideal time for surgery is 6 months to 1 year of age. If the testicle is felt by the surgeon then the surgery is open orchidopexy. In case the testicle is within the abdomen, laparoscopic orchidopexy is the treatment of choice.
If the testicle hasn’t descended on its own by 3 months of age, then surgery is the only option.
6 months to 1 year of age