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Understanding Undescended Testis in Children: What Every Parent should Know

Home - Health & Fitness - Understanding Undescended Testis in Children: What Every Parent should Know
Undescended Testis in Childern

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While it might sound alarming at first, understanding this condition and its implications can ease your worries and help you take the right steps for your child’s health.
One such issue that might arise is an undescended testis. As parents, we often face numerous health concerns regarding our children.

What is an Undescended Testis?
An undescended testis in children, or cryptorchidism, occurs when one or both of a male infant’s testicles fail to move into the scrotum before birth. This is a common condition, affecting about 3% of full-term and 30% of premature male infants. Normally, the testicles develop in the abdomen and descend into the scrotum during the last few months of fetal development. When this descent doesn’t happen, it results in an undescended testis.

An undescended testis is commonly seen in premature male child.

In most cases, Undescended testis gets rectified on its own, as the undescended testis moves to its appropriate position within the first few months of life.

However, if this condition is not corrected on its own till 6 months of age, then a surgery is required to move the testicle in to its correct position.

This condition usually affects one testicle, but, in a few cases, the condition may effect both testicles, thereby keeping them undescended.

Signs and Symptoms
The primary indication of an undescended testis is the absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum. During a routine newborn physical exam, a healthcare provider can usually detect this condition. If your child has cryptorchidism, you might notice:

  • One or both testicles not palpable in the scrotum.
  • An empty scrotum or one that appears smaller than usual.
    Potential Complications
    While undescended testis often resolves on its own within the first few months of life, it can lead to several complications if left untreated:
  • Infertility: Testicles need to be in the cooler environment of the scrotum to produce sperm. Prolonged abdominal temperature can affect sperm production.
  • Testicular Cancer: Men with a history of undescended testis have a higher risk of testicular cancer, even if the condition is corrected surgically.
  • Hernias: An undescended testicle is often associated with an inguinal hernia.
  • Testicular Torsion: This is a painful twisting of the testicle, cutting off its blood supply, which is more likely in an undescended testis.

    A thorough physical exam is usually enough to diagnose an undescended testis. In some cases, imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI might be used to locate the testicle if it’s not palpable.
    Doctors may recommend the following types of surgery for the diagnosis and treatment in case of an undescended testicle.
    • Laparoscopy – Laparoscopy helps find out an intra-abdominal testicle. A small incision ismade in the abdomen, post which, a small tube containing a camera is inserted. In some cases, an additional surgery may be needed if the doctor cannot rectify the testicle’s position during laparoscopy. In case laparoscopy shows the absence of a testicle or a small remnant of the testicular tissue, then the same is removed.
    • Open surgery – This type of a surgery, requires a slightly bigger incision when testis is lying in groin. Post the birth of a boy, if the doctor notices that the boy’s testicles are missing in the scrotum, he may do a few tests to see if the testicles are undescended or are absent. If left untreated or undiagnosed, absence of testicles may cause serious medical problems post birth. It is not recommended to go for an ultrasound or an MRI for the diagnosis of an Undescended Testis.
    • The corrective surgery is orchidopexy means fixing the testis in scrotum. The testis lying inside the abdomen needs laparoscopic orchidopexy. It is best to speak to your paediatrician or doctor if you see any changes in your son’s genitals or are concerned about his developments.

Treatment options depend on the child’s age and the severity of the condition. The primary treatment is a surgical procedure called orchiopexy:

  • Orchiopexy: This is the most common treatment and involves moving the undescended testicle into the scrotum and fixing it in place. It is typically performed between 6 months and 1 year of age to reduce the risk of complications.
  • Hormonal Therapy: In some cases, hormones like hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) may be used to stimulate the testicle to descend, though this is less common and not as effective as surgery.
    Long-Term Outlook
    With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most children with an undescended testis can lead healthy, normal lives. They can have normal fertility and a significantly reduced risk of testicular cancer compared to untreated cases.
    When to See a Doctor
    If you notice that your child’s testicles are not in the scrotum or if you have concerns about their development, it’s important to consult a pediatrician. Early intervention is key to preventing potential complications.
    An undescended testis, though concerning, is a treatable condition with a good prognosis when addressed promptly. Regular check-ups and awareness can ensure that your child receives the necessary care and lives a healthy, happy life. Always consult healthcare professionals for advice and treatment tailored to your child’s needs. By staying informed and proactive, you can ensure the best outcomes for your child’s health and well-being.