Learn About Undescended Testicle

What is the definition of Undescended Testicle?

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

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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 of 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 of 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.)

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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.

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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 of 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 reproductive anatomy
Male reproductive system
What are the latest Undescended Testicle Clinical Trials?
Evaluation of Minipuberty in Infants Born With a Variation in Sexual Development

Summary: Disorders of sex development (DSD) occur in 1/3000 births and are defined by variation in aspect of external genital organs, e.g. cryptorchidism, hypospadias and micropenis in male infants and clitoral hypertrophy in female infants. Genetic, hormonal and environmental factors are implicated in DSD. Infants with congenital hypogonadism hypogonadotrope (CHH) can present with DSD. Evaluation of hormo...

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Randomized Trial of One Stage vs Two Stage Orchidopexy for Abdominal Undescended Testis

Summary: This is a randomized trial designed to evaluate testicular outcomes after a single stage versus a two-stage surgical procedure to fix an undescended, one-sided testicle located in the abdomen. Also to determine and compare the costs, surgical complications and the health related quality of life for the two procedures. Testicular outcomes will be measured using a scrotal ultrasound 6-12 months afte...

What are the Latest Advances for Undescended Testicle?
Outcomes and affecting factors for ICSI and microTESE treatments in nonobstructive azoospermia patients with different etiologies: A retrospective analysis.
Testicular volume in adult patients undergoing cryptorchidism surgery in childhood, and impact on paternity.
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Analysis of OCRL gene variant in a Chinese pedigree affected with Lowe syndrome.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: July 26, 2021
Published By: Kelly L. Stratton, MD, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Barthold JS, Hagerty JA. Etiology, diagnosis, and management of the undescended testis. In: Partin AW, Domochowski RR, Kavoussi LR, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh-Wein Urology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 46.

Chung DH. Pediatric surgery. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 67.

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.

Rajpert-De Meyts E, 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.