Undescended testes (also called cryptorchidism or UDT) describes a condition where the testes, which form inside the abdomen, fail to move down into the scrotal sac. This occurs in about 20 percent of premature infant boys and 3 percent of full
The testes usually descend within the first few months of life. By 1 year of age, about 1 percent of boys have an undescended testis. Also, 10 to 15 percent of boys with undescended testes have bilateral (both sides) involvement.
How are undescended testes diagnosed?
The diagnosis of an undescended testis begins with the observation that one or both testes are absent from the scrotal sac.
If a testis is in the scrotum and disappears, it may be retractile. A testis that is temporarily drawn into the groin may require no treatment, while a true undescended testis requires surgery, called orchiopexy, which secures an undescended testis inside the scrotal sac.
What are the treatment options for undescended testes?
Nemours urologists will continue to evaluate the undescended testis until the child is 6 months old. Surgical treatment is recommended if there is failure of the testis to come down.
Reasons for surgical treatment include:
an undescended testis may get injured more easily and undergo twisting or torsion
if an undescended testis is left at a higher body temperature, normal growth of the sperm may not take place
an undescended testis that is not corrected places the child at a higher risk for cancer
an empty scrotum may cause worry and embarrassment for a child later in life
detect overactivity or underactivity in the parathyroid glands (glands in the neck that make hormones that help control the level of calcium in the blood)
monitor disorders of the kidney and diseases of calcium metabolism
The test results also may point to digestive disorders that harm the small intestine's ability to absorb nutrients. The urine calcium test is usually used in combination with other tests to make a specific diagnosis.
The doctor might prescribe a special diet with high or low levels of calcium for a few days before the test. Your child might need to temporarily stop taking specific drugs, such as antacids, that affect calcium levels in the urine.
Collecting the specimen should only take a few minutes. Your child will be asked to pee into a clean sample cup in the doctor's office. If your child isn't potty trained and can't urinate into a cup, a small catheter may need to be inserted into the bladder to get the urine specimen.
Alternatively, a urine collection bag with adhesive tape on one end may be used to collect a sample from an infant. You'll clean your baby's genital area and then arrange the bag around the urinary opening. Once the bag is in place, secure it with the attached tape. You can then put a diaper on your baby. Check your baby's collection bag and remove it after your child has urinated, usually within an hour.
After you bring the sample to the lab, technicians will analyze it for calcium content.
What to Expect
Because the test involves normal urination, there shouldn't be any discomfort as long as your child can provide a urine specimen.
Getting the Results
The results of the urine calcium test are usually available in 1-2 days. Your doctor will go over the results with you and explain what they mean. If abnormalities are found, your doctor may may want to do further tests to make a specific diagnosis.
Infants may occasionally experience skin irritation from the adhesive tape on the collection bag. If a catheter is used to obtain the urine, it may cause temporary discomfort. If you have any questions or concerns about this procedure, talk to your doctor.
Helping Your Child
Urine collections are usually painless. Explaining how the test will be conducted and why it's being done can help ease any fear. Make sure your child understands that there should be no foreign matter, such as toilet paper or hair, in the sample.
If You Have Questions
If you have questions about the urine calcium test, speak with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: September 26, 2016