Undescended Testes

(Cryptorchidism)

Definition

A child's testicles develop before birth. They start inside the abdomen. The testicles should then move down into the scrotum just before birth. Undescended testes stay in or return to the abdomen. A true undescended testicles situation is present at birth. The testicle remains in the abdomen until treated. Other situations that allow the testicles to go up into the abdomen include:
  • Retractile testicles—the testicles can move freely between the scrotum and abdomen. This condition does not require treatment and usually disappears by puberty.
  • Ascending testicles—a normal testicle returns to the abdomen
Undescended Testis
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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Undescended testicles are often caused by a disruption in the development of the testicles. The cause of this disruption is not clear. Genetics may play a role. There may also be some problems with the hormones that help testes develop. The testicles may also have been injured at some point during the pregnancy.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your child's chance of undescended testicles include:
  • Prematurity
  • Low birth weight
  • Twin gestation
  • Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormality in the fetus
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Hormonal abnormalities in the fetus
  • Toxic exposures in the mother
  • Having a mother younger than 20
  • A family history of undescended testes

Symptoms

The main symptom is not being able to see or feel the testicle.

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