A testicle that can't be felt in a physical exam is called "nonpalpable." Nonpalpable testicles may be in the abdomen (undescended), absent, or very small ("atrophic"). It's important to find out whether there is a testicle that hasn't dropped. An undescended testicle left inside the abdomen could form a tumor later in life. Such a tumor might not be noticed until it becomes quite large or causes symptoms. Unfortunately, there's no test, such as an ultrasound, that can definitively show whether a testicle is there. Surgery is the only way to find out for sure.
Pediatric urologists are experts in both open and laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopy is surgery done through thin tubes put into your child's body through a small cut. The surgeon uses a special camera to see inside your child's body. The surgeon will find one of 3 situations:
- Blind-ending testicular blood vessels – proving there's no testicle
- Vessels leaving the abdomen – proving there's no testicle in the abdomen
- A testicle in the abdomen. If a testicle is found, it's brought down into the scrotum or removed, based on its condition.