What are undescended testes?
The testes develop in the abdomen and begin descent into the scrotum shortly before the baby is born and should be descended by the age of one year. Usually, only one testicle is does not descend but it can also happen with both testicles.
Undescended testes are usually not associated with any pain, however twisting of one of the testicles may occur (testicular torsion) and this can be painful.
What causes undescended testes and how common are they?
There is no clear cause why undescended testicles happen, and they occur in about one in every 25 boys. Premature birth, low birth weight, and a history in the family of undescended testicles may make it more likely for this to happen.
How are undescended testes diagnosed?
They are diagnosed through physical examination by the doctor to see if the testes can be felt in the scrotum. In cases where they cannot be felt, treatment may include a diagnostic keyhole surgery to see if the testicles are still in the abdomen.
How are undescended testes treated?
Treatment for undescended testes is recommended if the testes have not descended by six months as they are unlikely to do so after this, and this may lead to complications such as problems with fertility and an increased risk of testicular cancer.
Treatment for undescended testes involves an operation called an orchidopexy to move the testes into the scrotum, and your child will be put to sleep for this with a general anaesthetic.
What are the risks?
- Bruising or bleeding at surgical site
- Wound infection
Retraction of the testicle
- Insufficient blood supply to the testicle causing it to atrophy
- Damage to the vas deferens which is tube connecting the testicle to the urethra
What happens after?
- Recovering from anaesthetic
- Dressing changes and follow up appointments
- Pain relief – simple analgesia is usually sufficient
- Return to activity including sports
- Return to school