Undescended Testes

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
term newborns.

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