Thu. Jun 30th, 2022
Undescended testicle or cryptorchidism: what is it and how to solve

The occult or undescended testicle (also called cryptorchidism) affects between two and eight percent of baby boys, especially if they are premature, although in the course of the first few months the problem usually resolves spontaneously in most part of the cases, leaving only 0.8% affected.

We explain what this congenital anomaly consists of, why it occurs and what repercussions it can have if it is not corrected early.

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What is cryptorchidism?

While the baby is in the womb, his testicles develop in the abdominal cavity, but towards the end of gestation (approximately around the seventh month) they will descend through the inguinal canal into the scrotal sac.

When this does not happen, that is, when the newborn has one or both testicles inside the abdomen or they are lowered manually but once released they do not remain inside the scrotum, it is called cryptorchidism.

According to the Spanish Society of Extra-Hospital Pediatrics and Primary Care , cryptorchidism affects between two and eight percent of newborns in Europe, although in the case of premature babies the incidence can reach 30%.

In most cases, the problem resolves itself within the first six to nine months of life.

Risk factor’s

Factors that increase the risk of cryptorchidism are:

  • Born before the 37th week of gestation
  • Being born with low weight (if combined with the previous point, the risk is doubled)
  • twin pregnancies
  • Family history of undescended testicles
  • Associated hormonal disorders such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia or disorders of sexual development
  • Abdominal wall malformations

How is it diagnosed and what treatment does it have?

The problem is usually quickly diagnosed with a simple physical examination by the pediatrician, either at birth or during subsequent well-child check-ups. Sometimes additional tests are required, such as ultrasound, CT or MRI.

When a baby is born with undescended testicles and by the end of the year the problem has not resolved itself, surgery may be necessary , since early treatment has a greater guarantee of success. Sometimes it is not possible to find the hidden testicle, and in those cases a prosthesis is usually placed in its place, to prevent psychological problems.

In any case, professional follow-up is necessary from the moment of its detection.

Associated Risks of Cryptorchidism

Although the undescended testicle does not cause symptoms , if it is not corrected early it can carry associated risks:

  • Most boys with undescended testicles also have an inguinal hernia.
  • Cryptorchidism is associated with an increased risk of testicular torsion, a serious problem that requires a medical emergency
  • In the adolescent stage, the “empty scrotum” can lead to psychological and self-esteem problems
  • Fertility and sterility problems, as sperm cannot be formed correctly
  • Increases the risk of testicular cancer