Treatments for Undescended Testicles in Children

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If your son's testicle does not descend on its own before his first birthday, his surgeon will most likely recommend a type of surgery called orchiopexy to move the testicle down into the scrotum.

About the procedure:

  • If the testicle can be felt in the groin, orchiopexy will probably be done through a small incision in the groin. The surgeon will free the testicle from its location in the abdomen and maneuver it into the scrotum. Children often go home later that day or the next morning.
  • If the testicle cannot be felt with an undescended testicle in the groin (this occurs in one-out-of-five boys with an undescended testicle), the testicle may be in the abdomen or may simply be absent. Further exploration is necessary to make sure a testicle is not left in the abdomen—in order to permit the testicle to function properly and to reduce the risk of cancer developing undetected in that testicle.

Is surgery to correct an undescended testicle medically necessary?

Not always. However, it's highly recommended in order to reduce the risk of cancer or infertility and to improve your son's body image through adolescence and adulthood, and to reduce long-term effects and the risk of cancer or infertility.

How many surgeries will my child require?

In most cases, doctors are able to repair an undescended testicle with a single, simple operation.

At what age will the surgery take place?

Most surgeries to treat undescended testicles occur at around 12 months of age.

What are the complications of the surgery?

Complications from surgery are relatively rare but in some cases can include bleeding and infection. The most common complication—which is still quite rare, is when the moved testicle goes back up into the groin. In this case, doctors will need to perform another surgery. In very rare cases, a testicle can lose its blood supply, which will render it nonviable. It will then become scar tissue. But again, this is very rare.

How long will my son have to stay in the hospital after surgery?

Kids often go home later that day or the next morning.

What happens after surgery?

Your son may feel some discomfort after his operation, but most boys feel better after about a day. Your doctor will probably recommend that your son avoid sitting on riding toys for about two weeks in order to prevent injury to the testicle. You can expect annual follow-up examinations so the doctor can check that the testicle is growing normally.

Patient and family resources at Boston Children's Hospital

No parents want their child to have a medical condition, and it's important to remember that you and your family aren't alone.

Boston Children's Hale Family Center for Families is dedicated to helping families locate the information and resources they need to better understand their child's particular condition and take part in their care. All patients, families and health professionals are welcome to use the center's services at no extra cost.

The Center for Families is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, please call 617-355-6279.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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