Undescended testicle is a common childhood condition when one or both testicles fail to move into the scrotum which is a sac that contains the testes, blood vessels, and part of the spermatic cord. The condition is common in infants who are born early. Around one in every 25 boys is born with undescended testicles.
If one testicle is undescended then it is also called unilateral cryptorchidism, if both the testicles are undescended it is called bilateral cryptorchidism. The condition may not require treatment in most cases as the testicles usually descend before the boy is 9 months old. However in some cases the testicles remain undescended unless treated.
The testicles form inside the baby’s abdomen during pregnancy. About two months before birth, the testicles slowly move down into the scrotum. If the testicles fail to move into the scrotum by the time of birth, it is called undescended testicles.
The actual cause of undesdended tescticles is unknown however child born through abnormal deliveries such as low birth weight, or premature delivery, are more likely to have undescended testicles. Doctors have also been able to associate family history with undescended testicles. A child born in a family with undescended testicles is more likely to have the condition as compared to a child born in a family that has no history of undescended testicles.
Once an exam such as CT scan by the health care provider confirms that one or both of the testicles of a child (above one year age) are not in the scrotum treatment may be recommended. Although, in most cases the testicles descend without treatment during the first year, in rare cases treatment may be require.
The most common treatment for undescended testicles usually includes hormone injections or surgery to try to bring the testicle into the scrotum. Having surgery early may prevent damage to the testicles that can cause infertility. An undescended testicle found later in life may pose risk for cancer and may even need to be removed.
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