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J Urol. 1998 Jan;159(1):13-6.

Historical milestones regarding torsion of the scrotal organs.

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Urologische Klinik der Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany.



The clinical syndrome of the acute scrotum, whereby the spermatic cord or appendix testis becomes twisted, commonly affects young men. Our knowledge of this condition, however, is of relatively recent origin.


We performed an historical survey of torsion of the scrotal organs dating back to 1703. In Bologna in 1703 Morgagni observed the first hydatid on the caput epididymis. He described 10 hydatid cases of the testis and epididymis producing, in his opinion, the fluid of hydroceles. The first illustration of appendix testis dates from Cooper 1841. Later these testicular appendages, or hydatids, were shown to be vestigial remnants of either the müllerian duct or the wolffian structures, depending on location. Actual torsion of the appendix testis was mentioned by Ombrédanne in 1913 but the first case report was published in 1922 by Colt. Appendix testis torsion was first schematically illustrated in 1923 by Mouchet and was characterized by Dix in 1931 in a manner that is still valid today. Interestingly, the great majority of case reports since 1932 have originated from America. In 1810 Hunter described a typical case of testicular torsion, and in 1840 Delasiauve presented the first case of surgically treated testicular torsion. A schematic and original illustration of a contorted undescended testis was published in 1894 by Lauenstein.


Testicular torsion was, and still is, a true urological emergency but the historical survival rate of the testis was extremely low. Searching for improvement in clinical diagnosis, physicians have noted helpful specific signs, 1 of which is that the period of ischemia determines loss of the testis.


The historical development of diagnosis of torsion of the appendix testis and spermatic cord highlights the ever present need for careful examination, a high index of suspicion and timely therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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