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Undescended Testicles (Cryptorchidism)

A condition in which one or both testicles fail to move from the abdomen, where they develop before birth, into the scrotum.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Undescended Testicles

Testicles are the two small ball-shaped organs inside the scrotum (the sac of skin below the penis) that make male hormones and sperm. An undescended testicle happens when one or both of a child's testicles do not drop down into the scrotum before birth. This condition is called "cryptorchidism."

When a baby boy develops in his mother's womb, the testicles form in the infant's abdomen (belly). Right before birth, the testicles drop down (descend) into the scrotum.

In some babies, one or both testicles do not drop down like they should. Undescended testicles may be in the belly or groin area. It is also possible for a baby to be born without one or both testicles. Undescended testicles could be healthy and work normally. Sometimes, however, undescended testicles do not develop correctly and do not work like they should... Read more about Undescended Testicles

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Evaluation and Treatment of Cryptorchidism [Internet]

We assessed the effectiveness of imaging for identifying and correctly locating testicles, the use of hormonal stimulation for treatment planning and hormones for achieving testicular descent, and choices among surgical treatments, including surgical approach (open vs. laparoscopic).

Evaluation and treatment of cryptorchidism

Bibliographic details: Penson DF, Krishnaswami S, Jules A, Seroogy JC, McPheeters ML.  Evaluation and treatment of cryptorchidism. Rockville, MD, USA: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Comparative Effectiveness Review; 88. 2012 Available from: http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?productid=1352&pageaction=displayproduct

Magnetic resonance imaging for locating nonpalpable undescended testicles: a meta-analysis

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Preoperative imaging techniques may guide management of nonpalpable, cryptorchid testicles. We evaluated conventional MRI for identifying and locating nonpalpable testicles in prepubescent boys via meta-analysis.

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Summaries for consumers

Treatment Options for Children With Undescended Testicles: A Review of the Research for Parents and Caregivers

This summary will cover: What it means to have undescended testicles Treatment options for children with undescended testicles What researchers have found about how well the treatments work Possible side effects of the treatments

Testicular Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about tests used to detect or screen for testicular cancer.

Screening for testicular cancer

Testicular cancer commonly affects men aged between 20 and 35 years. It accounts up to 2% of cancers diagnosed in men, although the lifetime risk of mortality is less than 1%. Screening for testicular cancer is commonly performed by physician, who performs a physical examination, or self‐examination by the patient. However, there is little evidence that documents the accuracy of such examinations. This review identified that no randomised controlled trials have been performed to evaluate the effectiveness of screening for testicular cancer. In the absence of high quality evidence, male patients with an increased risk of developing testicular cancer should be informed of the potential benefits and harms associated with screening.

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Terms to know

A chemical produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular functions of the body. For example, insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that tells other cells when to use glucose for energy. Synthetic hormones, made for use as medicines, can be the same or different from those made in the body.
Laparoscopic Surgery (Keyhole Surgery)
Surgery done with the aid of a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease. Also called laparoscopic-assisted resection.
A surgical procedure in which an undescended testicle is sutured inside the scrotum in male infants or children to correct cryptorchidism. Orchiopexy is also performed to treat testicular torsion in adults and adolescents.
An external male reproductive organ. It contains a tube called the urethra, which carries semen and urine to the outside of the body.
In males, the external sac that contains the testicles.
Testicles (Testes)
One of two egg-shaped glands inside the scrotum that produce sperm and male hormones. Also called testicle.

More about Undescended Testicles

Photo of a baby

Other terms to know: See all 6
Hormones, Laparoscopic Surgery (Keyhole Surgery), Orchiopexy

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