Many infants with undescended testicles, which is also referred to as cryptorchidism, do not need treatment, because the testicles move to the scrotum within the first few months of life. But if a boy’s testicles have not descended by age 6 to 12 months, NYU Langone pediatric urologists recommend surgery to move them into the scrotum.
Left untreated, undescended testicles are vulnerable to changes which may contribute to infertility. Having an undescended testicle is a risk factor for testicular cancer.
If a boy’s undescended testicles are palpable, or able to be felt by a doctor, a pediatric urologic surgeon may perform a surgical procedure called an orchiopexy to reposition them. An orchiopexy is an outpatient procedure that takes place in the hospital and requires general anesthesia. Pediatric urologic surgeons at NYU Langone are experienced in performing this surgery in boys as young as 6 months old.
During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the groin or scrotum. The surgeon then frees the testicles from their surrounding attachments and places them in the scrotum.
If a baby’s undescended testicles are not palpable or are located high in the abdomen, a surgeon may use a laparoscope—a thin tube with a tiny camera at the tip—to locate the testicles. The surgeon inserts the laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen. Next, an incision is made in the scrotum. The testicle is moved from the abdomen to the scrotum and secured in position.
Most boys only need one surgery to correct this condition. Sometimes, if the testicles are located high in the abdomen, the blood vessels attached to them may not be long enough to allow the testicles to be placed in the scrotum. Two surgeries performed several months apart may be necessary to safely position the testicles in the scrotum.
Complications of orchiopexy are rare but may include bleeding and infection. Testicular atrophy, or loss of the testicles, is rare but may occur, especially when a blood vessel attached to a testicle needs to be divided to gain sufficient length to perform the surgery.
What to Expect After Surgery
Most children can return home the day of surgery. The doctor may prescribe a mild pain reliever, such as acetaminophen.
To promote healing and prevent discomfort, NYU Langone doctors recommend that your baby avoid straddle toys or bouncy seats in the days following surgery. However, it’s important that infants and children continue to be buckled in their safety seats to avoid injury during travel.
NYU Langone doctors typically recommend a follow-up visit 10 to 14 days after surgery. During this appointment, they determine if your child is feeling better and healing well. The stitches used to close the incision are dissolvable.
Another follow-up visit is usually scheduled for about four months after surgery. This allows the doctor to reexamine your child.
Resources for Undescended Testicles in Children
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