Definition

A boy's testicles develop inside the abdomen before birth. They move down into the scrotum just before or after birth. An undescended testicle (cryptorchidism) is when it does not move down into the scrotum.

Undescended Testicle
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Causes

It is not always known why this happens. It is thought to be a problem with the way the testicles develop.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Low birth weight
  • Being born too early
  • A family history of undescended testicles
  • Klinefelter syndrome or other chromosomal problems
  • Factors in the mother during pregnancy, such as:

Symptoms

The main symptom is not being able to see or feel the testicle.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the testicles. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Images may need to be taken to locate the testicle. This can be done with ultrasound or laparoscopy.

Treatment

Treatment is needed to avoid problems such as infertility and testicular cancer.

Choices are:

  • Waiting for the testicle to descend on its own
  • Surgery to move the testicle down and stitch it into place
  • Hormone therapy (not common)

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent this problem.

RESOURCES:

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org

National Infertility Association
http://www.resolve.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Fertility Matters
http://fertilitymatters.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Cryptorchidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cryptorchidism. Accessed September 22, 2020.

Tekgul S, Dogan HS, et al; European Society for Paediatric Urology and European Association of Urology (ESPU/EAU). Guidelines on paediatric urology. EAU 2017 Mar.

Undescended testicles. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/undescended-testicles.html. Accessed September 22, 2020.

Undescended testicles. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/genitourinary-tract/Pages/Undescended-Testicles.aspx. Accessed September 22, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 9/22/2020