Undescended Testes

What is an undescended testicle?

Undescended testicles, also known as cryptorchidism, is a fairly common and normally painless congenital condition in which one or both of a baby’s testicles (testes) have not moved into the proper position.

Before a baby boy is born, the testicles form in the child’s abdomen. During the third trimester, the testicles travel from the abdomen, down the groin, and into the scrotum (the sack of skin beneath the penis). An undescended testicle doesn’t complete the descent process. The testicle may be located anywhere from the abdomen to the groin and may affect one or both testicles.

Premature babies are affected by undescended testicles at a higher rate. The more premature your baby is, the higher the chance of having an undescended testicle.

In some cases an undescended testicle will descend (or “drop”) on its own within the child’s first six months of life. Those that don’t will require surgery.

Parents of baby boys who’ve been diagnosed with undescended testicles often worry, “Will my son be able to have children of his own?” Fortunately, for boys with one undescended testicle, the answer is “yes” in most cases.

What are the symptoms of an undescended testicle?

In a baby affected by undescended testicles, one or both of his testicles either appear to be missing or cannot be felt in the scrotum. If both testicles are undescended, the scrotum will look unusually small and flat. If only one testicle is affected, the scrotum may look lopsided.

If your baby’s testicle appears to be “sometimes there and sometimes not,” we call that testicle retractile. It’s a normal condition that requires no treatment.

What causes an undescended testicle?

Experts have yet to identify any single cause of undescended testicles. The following factors may interfere with the normal descent and development of the testicles:

  • abnormal anatomy
  • hormonal problems
  • environmental influences

What are the problems associated with an undescended testicle?

Undescended testicles can increase the risk of infertility. Normally, when the testicles are in the scrotum, they’re about three to five degrees cooler than they would be if they remained inside the body’s abdominal cavity. The warmer temperatures inside the body may impair the development of the testicles and may affect the production of healthy sperm when the boy is older.

Boys born with undescended testicles are also slightly more prone to testicular cancer, even after corrective surgery. The advantage of surgery, however, is that it moves the testes into a place that allows for routine self-examination, which could lead to early detection of any abnormalities later in life.

How we care for undescended testicles

Some undescended testicles will eventually move into their proper position without any sort of treatment within the first six months of a baby’s life; those that do not will need to be moved surgically.

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves looking into the abdomen through tiny incisions and utilizing miniaturized, highly sensitive operating tools, cameras, and telescopes. Should your child need surgical intervention.

Physicians also use laparoscopy to move intra-abdominal testicles into the scrotum. This allows for the optimal positioning of the testicles in the scrotum.

Source link: http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/u/undescended-testes-cryptorchidism