Undescended Testicle

ExitCare ImageUndescended testicles (cryptorchidism) is the absence of one or both testicles from the scrotum. During development, the testicles of a male fetus form inside the abdomen. At about 28 weeks of gestation, the testicles descend from the abdomen, through a tube-like space between the muscles in the groin (inguinal canal), into the scrotum. Sometimes the testicles do not descend or only descend into the inguinal canal but not the scrotum (partially descended). Most of the time undescended testicles will descend within the first 4 months after birth.

CAUSES

Many things can cause testicles to not descend, including:

  • Decreased pressure in the abdomen.

  • Abnormal string that pulls the testis down.

  • Hormone abnormalities.

  • Scarring in the descent tube.

  • Abnormal muscle pull.

  • Abnormalities in the testicles and cord structures.

RISK FACTORS

Undescended testicles can be associated with:

  • Hernias.

  • Water sacs in the scrotum.

  • Abnormal development of the penis.

  • Cerebral palsy.

  • Mental retardation.

  • Down syndrome.

  • Tumors of the kidney.

DIAGNOSIS

Undescended testicles are diagnosed by a physical exam.

TREATMENT

Treatment is important to decrease the chance of infertility. Sperm production can begin as early as 12 months of age, so it is recommended that treatment occur by 1 year of age. Hormones can also be used to stimulate the testicles to descend into the scrotum. Sometimes surgery is required.