What is the definition of Undescended Testicle?

Undescended testicle occurs when one or both testicles fail to move into the scrotum before birth.

What are the alternative names for Undescended Testicle?

Cryptorchidism; Empty scrotum - undescended testes; Scrotum - empty (undescended testes); Monorchism; Vanished testes - undescended; Retractile testes

What are the causes for Undescended Testicle?

Most of the time, a boy's testicles descend by the time he is 9 months old. Undescended testicles are common in infants who are born early. The problem occurs less in full-term infants.

Some babies have a condition called retractile testes and the health care provider may not be able to find the testicles. In this case, the testicle is normal, but is pulled back out of the scrotum by a muscle reflex. This occurs because the testicles are still small before puberty. The testicles will descend normally at puberty and surgery is not needed.

Testicles that do not naturally descend into the scrotum are considered abnormal. An undescended testicle is more likely to develop cancer, even if it is brought into the scrotum with surgery. Cancer is also more likely in the other testicle.

Bringing the testicle into the scrotum can improve sperm production and increase the chances of good fertility. It also allows the provider to do an exam for the early detection of cancer.

In other cases, no testicle may be found, even during surgery. This may be due to a problem that occurred while the baby was still developing before birth.

What are the symptoms for Undescended Testicle?

Most of the time there are no symptoms other than the absence of the testicle in the scrotum. (This is called an empty scrotum.)

What are the current treatments for Undescended Testicle?

In most cases, the testicle will descend without treatment during the child's first year. If this does not occur, treatment may include:

  • Hormone injections (B-HCG or testosterone) to try to bring the testicle into the scrotum.
  • Surgery (orchiopexy) to bring the testicle into the scrotum. This is the main treatment.

Having surgery early may prevent damage to the testicles and avoid infertility. An undescended testicle that is found later in life may need to be removed. This is because the testicle is not likely to function well and could pose a risk for cancer.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Undescended Testicle?

Most of the time, the problem goes away without treatment. Medicine or surgery to correct the condition is successful in most cases. Once the condition is corrected, you should have routine testicle exams by your doctor.

In about 50% of males with undescended testicles, the testicles cannot be found at the time of surgery. This is called a vanished or absent testis. As stated earlier, it may be due to something while the baby was still developing during pregnancy.

What are the possible complications for Undescended Testicle?

Complications may include:

  • Damage to the testicle from surgery
  • Infertility later in life
  • Testicular cancer in one or both testes

When should I contact a medical professional for Undescended Testicle?

Call your child's provider if he appears to have an undescended testicle.

Male
Male

REFERENCES

Barthold JS, Hagerty JA. Etiology, diagnosis, and management of the undescended testis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 148.

Chung DH. Pediatric surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 66.

Elder JS. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal contents. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 560.

Meyts ER-D, Main KM, Toppari J, Skakkebaek NE. Testicular dysgenesis syndrome, cryptorchidism, hypospadias, and testicular tumors. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 137.

  • Condition: Boys with Unilateral, Palpable Undescended Testes
  • Journal: BJS open
  • Treatment Used: Orchiopexy
  • Number of Patients: 417
  • Published —
This study determined whether testicular atrophy was affected by the age of undergoing orchiopexy in boys with unilateral, palpable undescended testicles.
  • Condition: Cryptorchidism Concomitant with Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism
  • Journal: Nihon Hinyokika Gakkai zasshi. The japanese journal of urology
  • Treatment Used: HCG Therapy
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This case report describes a 32-year-old Japanese man diagnosed with cryptorchidism (undescended testicles) concomitant with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism treated with HCG therapy.