Undescended Testicle

Dr. Rajalakshmi VK (AIIMS)MBBS

January 12, 2019

April 21, 2021

Undescended Testicle
Undescended Testicle

What is undescended testicle?

When a testicle has not reached the scrotum by the time a boy is six months old, the condition is known as undescended testicle. This condition is also termed as cryptorchidism. In this condition, one or both the testicles might be missing at birth. Undescended testicles are common in young boys. About 1 per cent of one-year-old boys and about 30 per cent of premature boys have at least one undescended testis.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

A smaller or an underdeveloped appearance of the scrotum on the affected side is the only symptom in a boy with an undescended testicle. Sometimes, the absence of the testis is felt in the scrotum, which is termed as an empty scrotum. In some boys, the undescended testicle twists or causes severe pain in the groin.

What are the main causes?

The main causes for an undescended testicle are:

  • Premature birth
  • Retractile testes (the testes move back and forth between the scrotum and the groin)
  • Abnormal testes
  • Problems during the baby’s growth in the womb

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A doctor examines the scrotum and confirms the absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum. If a physical examination is difficult, the doctor may order an imaging test, such as a CT scan or ultrasound, to identify the position of the missing testicle.

In most cases of an undescended testicle, the testicle descends into the scrotum during the child’s first year. If the testes do not move downwards naturally, the following treatments may be provided:

  • Hormone injections: Testosterone or beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (B-HCG) hormone injections
  • Surgery: Orchiopexy is a surgical procedure that brings the testicle back into the scrotum. Undergoing this surgery early avoids future problems like infertility and damage to the testes.
  • If an undescended testicle is found in later life, it might be necessary to remove it. Removing the testicle is opted for, as the testicle would not have a normal function and might be a risk factor for cancer.


  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Undescended testicle.
  2. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh [Internet]: UPMC; Undescended Testicle (Testis): Cryptorchidism.
  3. Health Harvard Publishing. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Undescended Testicle. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  4. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia [Internet]; Undescended Testes.
  5. Jerzy K. Niedzielski et al. Undescended testis – current trends and guidelines: a review of the literature. Arch Med Sci. 2016 Jun 1; 12(3): 667–677. PMID: 27279862
  6. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Undescended testicles.

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