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J Urol. 2006 Apr;175(4):1496-9.

Retractile testis--is it really a normal variant?

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Division of Pediatric Urology, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



Retractile testes are thought to represent a normal variant of descended testes in prepubertal boys. We studied retractile testes to determine their natural history.


We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 122 boys (mean age 5.4 years) who were referred for a suspected undescended testis and were found to have a retractile testis. A retractile testis was defined as a suprascrotal testis that could be manipulated easily into the scrotum and remained there without traction until the cremasteric reflex was induced. The boys were followed by annual examinations, which demonstrated the presence of retractile, descended (nonretractile) or undescended testes, and the presence or absence of a taut or inelastic spermatic cord in association with a retractile testis.


Of 204 retractile testes 61 (30%) descended (became nonretractile), 66 (32%) became UDTs and 77 (38%) remained retractile. Of the 62 retractile testes with a taut or inelastic spermatic cord 35 (56%) became UDTs. Of the 61 orchiopexies performed 8 (13%) showed a patent processus vaginalis. Boys in whom UDTs vs descended testes developed were a mean of 4.9 vs 6.6 years old (p = 0.001). The chance of spontaneous descent was 58% in boys 7 years or older, compared to 21% in boys younger than 7 (p <0.0001).


A retractile testis is not a normal variant. Retractile testes have a 32% risk of becoming an ascending or acquired undescended testis. The risk is higher in boys younger than 7 years old, or when the spermatic cord seems tight or inelastic. Boys with retractile testes should be monitored annually until the testes have clearly descended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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