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Undescended Testicle

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Pediatric Urology


The testicles form in the abdomen and normally descend into the scrotum before birth. An undescended testicle means it has not dropped down into the scrotum. It affects 3-5% of full term boys and up to 30% of preterm infants. In most cases, an undescended testicle will descend to the normal position within the first 3-6 months. Nearly 1% of full term boys have a testicle that remains undescended at one year of age, which requires treatment.

If your child has an undescended testicle, contact Erlanger Urology in Chattanooga TN today to schedule an appointment with an expert.

Diagnosis of an Undescended Testicle

Usually the testicle can be located during a physical exam. If the testicle cannot be felt, this means it is located in the abdomen, is absent or very small. In this case, the surgeon will use a laparoscopic technique to determine if the testicle is present, its condition and location. If found, and depending on the location and condition, the surgeon can move the testicle in to the scrotum.

Why Does a Testicle Fail to Descend into the Scrotum?

  • It may have descended incompletely and remain in the groin
  • It may have failed to form at all, or formed abnormally
  • It may have shrunken due to twisting of the blood vessels
  • It may be due to abnormal hormonal influences

Risks of an Undescended Testicle

Undescended testicles exhibit diminished growth and function. Another risk of an undescended testicle is that it can twist, which can cause damage to or loss of the testicle. Generally, an undescended testicle raises the risk of infertility and testicular cancer later in life. Often, undescended testicles are associated with inguinal hernias since the path that the testicle takes to the scrotum is the site of most inguinal hernias.

Undescended Testicle Treatment Options

The goal of surgery is to place the undescended testicle into the scrotum. If the child’s testicle has not descended by age 6 months, it is unlikely to descend. Surgical treatment for an undescended testicle is usually recommended before age 1, and any companion hernia can be repaired at the same time.

Early undescended testicle treatment reduces the risk of future problems. Results from surgery depend on the condition of the testicle. Most often, the testicle develops normally in the scrotum. But if the testicle is abnormal, it may never grow properly. The further the testicle is from the scrotum, the more likely that growth and function are affected.

Erlanger Urology pediatric urologists can help your child. They are board certified surgeons who regularly perform surgical procedures to repair undescended testes on babies and children.