Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle)

Pelvis | Urology | Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle) (Disease)


Cryptorchidism is also called undescended testicle. It is more common in premature babies, and occurs in 2-5% of male births. Most cases resolve on their own, but at times surgery is needed. In unique cases, cryptorchidism can develop later in life, often as late as young adulthood. About 3% of full-term and 30% of premature infant boys are born with at least one undescended testis.

However, about 80% of cryptorchid testes descend by the first year of life (the majority within three months), making the true incidence of cryptorchidism around 1% overall. Cryptorchidism is distinct from monorchism the condition of having only one testicle.

A non-palpable testis (unable to feel upon examination) is the most common symptom of cryptorchidism. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of cryptorchidism may resemble other conditions or medical problems.

Causes and Risk factors

Undescended testicle occurs when one or both testicles fail to move into the scrotum before birth. The testicles form inside the abdomen of the male fetus. Between 25 and 35 weeks gestation, the baby’s testicles migrate down slender channels in the lower abdomen (inguinal canals) and settle into the scrotum. In most cases of undescended testicles, only one testicle (testis) is absent. In around one in ten cases, both testicles are missing.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Three quarters of undescended testes usually resolve by 3 months of age and 99 percent resolve by one year without any intervention. Resolution occurs as the testicles (or testes) descend from the inguinal canal (a small internal passageway that runs along the abdomen near the groin) into the scrotal sac.

Hormone therapy using human chorionic gonadotropin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone or testosterone is sometimes used to encourage this movement. Medications may be prescribed as well. Surgery is needed for persistent cases to prevent damage and infertility. ...

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