What are Undescended Testicles?
An Undescended Testicle which is medically termed as cryptorchidism is a pathological condition in which the testicle does not move into its proper position below the penis before birth. Normally, only one testicle gets affected and remains undescended but in about 5-10 percent of cases of Undescended Testicle both the testicles are affected.
Undescended Testicle is quite rare but is seen normally in premature infants. In majority of the cases, the testicle goes back into its normal position with time and no intervention is required but in cases where the condition does not rectify itself on its own then surgical correction may be required.
What are the Causes of Undescended Testicles?
As stated, Undescended Testicle is seen mostly in premature babies and is a rare phenomenon in full term babies. Normally the testicles descend by the time the infant is 10 months old. At times, babies may have a condition called as retractile testes in which the physician is unable to find the testicles. In such cases, the testicle is normal but gets pulled back out of the scrotum by a muscle reflex. This occurs because the testicles are still quite small before puberty but they descend normally at puberty and surgery is not required. A child with an Undescended Testicle is more likely to develop testicular cancer at some stage even after it has been corrected with surgery.
Correcting Undescended Testicle improves sperm production and increases the fertility of the individual. It also helps in early detection of a testicular cancer. In some cases, a testicle is not found even during surgery. This may happen when the baby is still developing before the birth of the baby.
What are the Symptoms of Undescended Testicles?
In majority of the cases of Undescended Testicle, there are no symptoms except that the baby will have no testicle in the scrotum.
How is Undescended Testicles Diagnosed?
A routine physical exam by the provider is good enough to diagnose an Undescended Testicle as it will be visible whether the testicle is in the scrotum or not. The provider may be able to feel the Undescended Testicle just above the scrotum. In some cases radiological studies in the form of CT or MRI may be done.
How is Undescended Testicles Treated?
As stated above, in majority of the cases, the testicles descend on their own in a couple of months but if this is not the case then the child may require some treatment for Undescended Testicle.
The treatments for undescended testicle may include:
- Hormone injection is given in order to bring the testicle back into the scrotum.
- Surgical Treatment for Undescended Testicle. Procedure to bring the testicle back into the scrotum is by far the most successful method for treating Undescended Testicles. It should be noted here that surgery for Undescended Testicles should be done as early as possible so as to prevent any sort of damage to the testicles and prevent infertility.
What is the Prognosis for Undescended Testicles?
In majority of the cases of Undescended Testicles, the problem goes away on its own by the time the child reaches the first birthday. Prognosis for total recovery is very good even with surgery and medications for cases of Undescended Testicles. If an Undescended Testicle is found much later in life then that testicle may need to be removed as it could pose a threat for developing cancer.