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Undescended Testicle (Cryptorchidism)

A concise summary of undescended testicles, including treatment options.

Undescended Testicle Infographic

An infographic with facts and figures on Undescended Testicle (also known as Cryptorchidism).

Undescended Testicles

A detailed guide to help parents understand how to treat their son's undescended testicles.

Causes

In most children with this health issue, it's not known why the testicles fail to drop. It may be because the testicles aren't normal to start with. In other cases, there's a mechanical problem. The testicles drop but miss the scrotum, ending up next to the scrotum instead. These are called "ectopic testicles." Or it may be that the baby's hormones can't stimulate the testicles normally. No studie...

Cryptorchidism

What Happens under Normal Conditions? The testicles (or "testes") are 2 organs that hang in a pouch-like skin sac (the scrotum) below the penis. The testicles are where sperm and testosterone (the male sex hormone) are made. The scrotum keeps the testicles in a cooler setting than the body. This is because sperm can't grow at body temperature. During childhood, sperm in the testicles go through a ...

Diagnosis

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 ...

Treatment

The testicle won't drop after 3 months of age, so the only treatment choice is surgery. Surgery is recommended after 6 months of age. The timing takes into account when the child is able to handle anesthesia and the surgery. Drugs or hormone treatment aren't useful. This surgery is called an orchiopexy. The child is put under (general anesthesia) for this surgery. Almost always the child can go ho...

A Patient's Guide to Undescended Testicles

The following is a patient story about undescended testicles: When our son Kenny K* was born, we were so happy! He was beautiful. We were in love at first sight. He had all of his fingers and toes and looked like an angel. However, at three months old, we noticed that his genitals didn't look right. We took him to his doctor and the pediatrician said he had an undescended testicle. Kenny's pediatr...

Ep. 102 Undescended Testicles, a Patient's Guide

An undescended testicle is when it fails to drop into the normal place in the scrotum. Your child's health care provider can find this during a routine exam. Learn more on today's new episode of the Urology Care Podcast.

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions Is an undescended testicle always found in babies? No. About 1 of every 5 cases of undescended testicles are found after the boy is no longer a baby. The testicles of these boys appeared to have dropped normally as babies. If an undescended testicle appears later it is called an "ascending testicle." This happens because the testicle doesn't "fix" itself in the scrotum, ...

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