The testes develop inside the abdomen in the male foetus and then descends down into the scrotum before or just after birth. Cryptorchidism is most commonly known as Undescended Testicle. It is a condition in which one or both male testes have not moved down into the proper place in the bag of skin hanging below the penis(scrotum).
- Generally only one testicle is affected, but about 10% of the time both the testicles are undescended.
- Undescended Testicle is common among the premature baby boys.
- Cryptorchidism may develop after infancy, sometimes as late as young adulthood, but that is exceptional.
- The medical term for having one or two undescended testicles is unilateral or bilateral cryptorchidism.
- This condition is found in 3 or 4 out of 100 newborns.
Not feeling the testicle where you would expect it in the scrotum is the main sign of undescended testicle. This is also known as Empty Scrotum. During the last few couple of months of normal fetal development, the testicle starts descending from the abdomen through a tube-like passageway in the groin (inguinal canal) into the scrotum. With an undescended testicle, that process stops or is delayed.
The exact cause of undescended testicle is unknown. It is mainly found in premature baby boys. Although low levels of androgens during prenatal period is suspected to be the main cause. Also babies born with Klinefelter’s Syndrome, Spina Bifida and Down Syndrome are more likely to have undescended testes. And a large number of maternal, hormonal and other environmental factors leading to hormonal and physical changes can influence the development of testicles.
Factors that can increase the risk of having undescended testicle in a newborn are:
- Low birth weight.
- Premature birth.
- Family history of undescended testicles or other problems of genital development.
- Conditions of the foetus that can restrict growth, such as Down syndrome or an abdominal wall defect.
- Alcohol use by the mother during pregnancy.
- Cigarette smoking by the mother or exposure to second-hand smoke.
- Parents’ exposure to some pesticides.
The normal function of a Scrotum to provide cooler temperature. Testicle not being present at the place where we would expect it can lead to various complications in a newborn. The complications can be:
- Testicular Cancer – This cancer usually begins in the cells of the testicles that can influence the production of sperms. Men with undescended testicle are more vulnerable to Testicular Cancer. Surgically correcting undescended testes can not eliminate the risk of Testicular Cancer.
- Fertility Problems – Problems such as low sperm count, poor sperm quality and decreased fertility can also occur to the men with undescended testicles.
- Testicular Torsion – It is a twisting of the male organ that makes hormones and sperm (testicle). This painful condition cuts off blood to the testicle. If not treated promptly, this might result in the loss of the testicle. Testicular torsion occurs 10 times more often in undescended testicles than in normal testicles.
- Inguinal Hernia – If the opening between the abdomen and the inguinal canal is too loose, a portion of the intestines can push into the groin.
Undescended Testicles can usually be diagnosed after physical examination. Most undescended testicles can be located or “palpated” on exam by the doctor. It can be diagnosed by :
- Laproscopy – A small tube containing a camera is inserted through a small incision in male abdomen. It is done to locate the intra-abdominal testicle. Doctor can either treat it via this or he can recommend surgery after laproscopy.
- Open Surgery – Direct exploration of the abdomen or groin through a larger incision might be necessary in some cases.
Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound and MRI, generally aren’t recommended for diagnosing an undescended testicle.
It is necessary to treat Undescended Testicle because it can lead to many problems to males. The goal of the treatment is to move the testes to its proper location in the scrotum. In most cases testicle descends without treatment during child’s first year.If this does not occur, treatment may include:
- Orchiopexy Surgery – This surgery brings the testicle into the scrotum. This is the main treatment. In this procedure, a small cut is made in the groin and the testicle is brought down into the scrotum, then fixed in place.This is a relatively straightforward operation, with a good success rate.
After surgery, the surgeon will monitor the testicle to see that it continues to develop, function properly and stay in place. Monitoring might include:
- Physical exams
- Ultrasound exams of the scrotum
- Tests of hormone levels
Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the problem before it gets more worse. As Dr. Ravi Malik said today we have a solution to every problem, so its time not to loose hope. Get your son diagnosed and treated at the best health care centre. Radix Healthcare has proved to be one of the best in its treatment for human care.