St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Undescended testicle

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

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

    Causes

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

    Some babies have a condition called retractile testes and the health care provider may not be able find the testicles. In this case, the testicle is normal but is pulled back out of the scrotum by a muscle reflex. This is able to occur 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 health care 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.

    Symptoms

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

    Exams and Tests

    An exam by the health care provider confirms that one or both of the testicles are not in the scrotum.

    The health care provider may or may not be able to feel the undescended testicle in the abdominal wall above the scrotum.

    Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, may be done.

    Treatment

    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 that can cause 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.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The problem goes away without treatment most of the time. Medicine or surgery to correct the condition is successful in most cases.

    In about 5% of patients with undescended testicles, the testicles cannot be found at the time of surgery. This is called a vanished or absent testis.

    Possible Complications

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

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

    References

    Barthold JS. Abnormalities of the testes and scrotum and their surgical management. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology.10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 132. 

    Elder JS. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal contents. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 539.

    Wampler SM, Llanes M. Common scrotal and testicular problems. Prim Care. 2010; 37:613-626.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Male reproductive anatom...

      illustration

    • Male reproductive system

      illustration

      • Male reproductive anatom...

        illustration

      • Male reproductive system

        illustration

      A Closer Look

        Tests for Undescended testicle

          Review Date: 10/2/2013

          Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
          adam.com

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


          Back  |  Top
          About Us
          Contact Us
          History
          Mission
          Locations & Directions
          Quality Reports
          Annual Reports
          Honors & Awards
          Community Health Needs
          Assessment

          Newsroom
          Services
          Brain & Spine
          Cancer
          Heart
          Maternity
          Orthopedics
          Pulmonary
          Sleep Medicine
          Urgent Care
          Women's Services
          All Services
          Patients & Visitors
          Locations & Directions
          Find a Physician
          Tour St. Luke's
          Patient & Visitor Information
          Contact Us
          Payment Options
          Financial Assistance
          Send a Card
          Mammogram Appointments
          Health Tools
          My Personal Health
          mystlukes
          Spirit of Women
          Health Information & Tools
          Clinical Trials
          Health Risk Assessments
          Employer Programs -
          Passport to Wellness

          Classes & Events
          Classes & Events
          Spirit of Women
          Donate & Volunteer
          Giving Opportunities
          Volunteer
          Physicians & Employees
          For Physicians
          Remote Access
          Medical Residency Information
          Pharmacy Residency Information
          Physician CPOE Training
          Careers
          Careers
          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
          Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile