Testicular Torsion

What Is Testicular Torsion?

Testicular torsion is a twisting of the testicles and the spermatic cord (the structure extending from the groin to the testes which contain nerves, ducts, and blood vessels). This twisting or torsion causes decreased blood flow to the testes and deprives them of oxygen and nutrients. This is a painful condition which usually occurs in boys 10 years and older. It may also occur during fetal development or shortly after a baby is born.

What Causes Testicular Torsion?

In pre-adolescent and adolescent boys, torsion is thought to occur because of abnormal or incomplete attachment of the testes within the scrotum. This allows the testes to be more movable and to twist on their blood supply.

Testicular torsion found in the fetus occurs when the protective sac that surrounds the testicles within the scrotum does not attach to the scrotum internally.

The cause is unknown but heredity may play a role. Sometimes fathers, sons, and brothers share this condition.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of testicular torsion may involve one or both of the testes. The most common symptoms are:

  • Scrotal (involving the scrotum):
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Bruising (in newborns)
    • Firmness (in newborns)
    • Redness
    • High-lying testicles
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of cremasteric reflex (reflex involved in controlling testicular movement into the pelvic cavity which is normally elicited by cold, touch, emotional excitement, or exercise)

However, it is important to keep in mind that each child may experience symptoms differently. The symptoms of a testicular torsion may resemble other conditions or medical problems so always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Usually, a physical examination and a complete medical history can diagnose testicular torsion. It is very important to make a quick diagnosis because prolonged testicular torsion may cause irreversible damage to the testes. Diagnostic tests may include scrotal ultrasound examination of blood flow to the testicles.

What is the Treatment?

The specific treatment for testicular torsion will be determined based on:

  • Child’s age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent and expected course of the condition
  • Child’s tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Parent’s preference and opinion

Testicular torsion usually requires immediate intervention to untwist the spermatic cord in order to restore blood flow. A testicle removal may be necessary when deprived of blood flow for too long as it may not be able to recover. Surgery can also help prevent torsion from re-occurring because the operation also involves firmly attaching both testes to the scrotal sac.

The physicians of Georgia Urology have expertise in evaluation and treatment of testicular torsion in newborns, boys, adolescents, and adults. Call today to schedule an appointment in one of our convenient office locations so you can find relief today.