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J Urol. 1987 Nov;138(5):1285-90.

On unilateral testicular and epididymal torsion: no effect on the contralateral testis.

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Department of Urology, University of Virginia Medical School, Charlottesville 22908.


It is often stated that unilateral testicular torsion results in damage to the contralateral testis; however, there are a growing number of experimental and clinical papers which suggest this is not so. Conflicting results from experimental studies confuse the issue and may be due, among other things, to some specifics of the experimental model. In the present paper, we have examined bilateral rat testes 30 and 60 days after 720 degrees torsion to determine 1) the effect of unilateral testicular torsion with and without the inclusion of epididymal torsion, 2) the effect of relatively chronic torsion (24 hr., 10 day) versus relatively acute torsion (two hr., four hr.), and 3) the effect of establishing the model using scrotal surgery versus using an abdominal approach. Bilateral testicular histology, testis wt. (gm.), cauda epididymal sperm concentrations (sp./ml.), and cauda sperm motility scores (0-4) were examined. Ipsilateral testicular torsion or testicular plus epididymal torsion of two hr. or four hr. duration significantly reduced (p less than .05) ipsilateral testis weights, sperm concentrations, and motility scores, and disrupted normal tissue histology. Contralateral testicles were not altered. Epididymal ischemia alone produced no significant ipsilateral or contralateral effects. Chronic torsion (one day, 10 days) also destroyed ipsilateral testis function without altering the contralateral testicles. The occult cryptorchidism associated with the scrotal approach to establishing the torsion model had no effect on contralateral testicles. In no group, using either Lewis rats or Sprague-Dawley rats, were contralateral testicles altered by unilateral testicular torsion. These results plus recent clinical reports indicate that contralateral testicular damage due to ipsilateral torsion is hardly a proven phenomenon, let alone a significant factor contributing to male infertility.

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