During normal development before birth, the testes “descend” from inside the belly down to the scrotum. Sometimes, the development is abnormal and results in abnormal position of the affected testis, which is called an undescended testis. This condition affects about 3% of term male infants, and is more common in preterm babies. The scrotum can appear small and flat and the affected testis cannot be found inside.
Some of the undescended testes have the chance to descend to the scrotum within the first 6-12 months but most don’t. Most patients will require an operation at the age of 6-12 months to find the abnormally positioned testis and put the affected testis inside the scrotum. This surgery is called an “orchiopexy”. It is a relatively minor operation.
Under general anesthesia, a small wound is made over the groin on the affected side and the abnormally positioned testis is found. The blood vessels supplying the testis and the vessel transporting the sperm (the vas deferens) was released and lengthened. The testis will then be put inside a subcutaneous pocket in the scrotum. The skin is then repaired with absorbable sutures, which means the sutures will not require removal. Skin adhesive and a dressing will then be applied. Sometimes, the surgery will require two stages due to inadequate length of the blood vessels.
- 1-2% testis atrophy after operation
- Higher than expected position of the testis several months or years after the surgery
- Minor wound infection
- Allergic reaction to the suture material
- General risk of anesthesia