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Undescended Testicles

The Children's Hospital Department of Pediatric Urologic Surgery

The testicles are egg-shaped organs that lie in the scrotum. They produce the male hormone testosterone. They also contain reproductive cells called sperm. An undescended testicle occurs when there is failure of the testicle to descend from the abdominal position in the fetus into the scrotum.

  • The scrotum keeps the testicles several degrees cooler than the core body temperature. This lower temperature is important for the development and production of fertile sperm.
  • A scrotum containing two testicles appears physically more normal.
  • A testicle that is not in the scrotum cannot be physically examined. An undescended testicle is at a low but increased risk for testicular cancer. This type of cancer is highly curable when found early. The best way to find this type of cancer is with examination. This is possible only when the testicle is in the scrotyum. Placing the testicle in the scrotum does not prevent cancer.


Surgical Repair

Orchiopexy is the surgical procedure for an undescended testicle. A small incision is made in the groin. The testicle is brought down to the scrotum. Occasionally, an abdominal incision is necessary if the testicle is high up in the abdomen. Laparoscopy may be necessary to help locate a testicle that is undescended. Sometimes it may be used to bring the testicle down. In some cases the testicle might be abnormal and need to be removed (orchiectomy). The procedure will last approximately 45 minutes. Recovery room time will last a half-hour.

Post-operative care and follow-up


Activity As for hernias/hydroceles (above).
Surgical Site There is no special care for the incision. Leave the surgical dressing or tape in place until it comes off by itself.
Bathing It is okay to bathe your son the day after surgery. A warm bath without soap will help reduce swelling and discomfort. Change diapers frequently to keep the incision site clean.
Bruising/swelling You can expect bruising or swelling of the scrotum. This should resolve over the next few weeks.

Start with clear liquids. When clears are tolerated you may advance to regular foods.

Pain Relief We recommend alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen for the first few days after surgery. You may give it as directed on the bottle or package. Depending on the age and the complexity of the surgery, a stronger medication occasionally is required.