Absent Testis in Scrotum
Vivek Rege
Reasons for Correction
There are a number of reasons why a testis in an abnormal position must be brought down to the scrotum. The best results are achieved if the surgery is finished by the age of 1 -1 ½ years . The reasons for operation are :

1. When the testis is in an abnormal position its temperature remains higher than in the scrotum by 1 degree Farenheit. Just a small difference alters the function of the organ - making of sperms. The process of making sperms in the testis is complicated and involves many stages. It has been proved that the function begin to deteriorate rapidly after 1and half years if the testis is not in its normal position. By 5 years of age, the tubule producing sperms are reduced by half and the greater the age of the child when testes is brought down, the worse is the function that will be life long. This is directly related to the fertility in terms of number and quality of sperms. The chances of such a male to father a child later in life are very much reduced. In fact, even though there may be an undescended testis on only one side, yet, it affects the unction of both sides. It has been shown that even in those boys whose defect has been corrected by the right age still have a 25% chance of infertility.

2. In boys with undescended testes, the testis is usually found to be in the inguinal region. In this abnormal position, the boy is more likely to injure the testis while playing, fighting, falling. Due to direct impact to the testis, it may rupture, cause a blood clot or smash the testis and destroy it. The incidence of trauma to the testis in these boys is far more than that in boys with a well descended testes.

3. An undescended testis is not fully down and fixed in position, and hence can move from above downwards, as well as side to side. Since the testis is preceeded by its vesels and the vas there can be a twist of the testis on its vessels - called torsion and this can be dangerous. During torsion, the twist can cut off the blood supply to the testis and cause an infarction and death of the testis. The testis in such a case will have to be removed permanently. This will affect not only the function of the same side but is also found to adversely affect the opposite side testis function.

4. Associated with an undescended testis, there is a high incidence of a hernia almost 60 - 70% cases. Therefore to bring the testis down and to achieve an adequate length, the hernial sac needs to be separated from the cord structures and ligated.

5. In later life, the chances of developing a cancer of the testis is 20 times higher in a boy with undescended testis, than one with both descended testes. Also higher the initial position of the testis, the more the chances of the malignancy. The importance of this observation is that in cases with treated boys with the testis in the scrotum, in later life one side testis starts growing larger than its counterpart, an immediate suspicion is aroused, and a biopsy of that testis needs to be done and if proved positive for cancer, that testis can be removed and other treatment given to control the spread. However, if the testis is in the abdomen, and left untreated, the testis will grow and become cancer and the spread will occur without anyone realizing till it may be too late to treat such a man.

6. The last but not the least reason for bringing and fixing the testis in normal position is cosmesis - a boy with no or a single testis is the target of jokes, fun and teasing. This will make him extremely conscious of the anomaly and have a psychological effect and thus the importance of correction. In cases of absent testis on one side, later - a prosthesis can be inserted after measuring the size of the opposite testis.

The ideal age for correction for getting the best results is between 1 to 1½ years of age. The surgery done is called Orchiopexy - that is fixation of the testis in the scrotum and prevent it from going back up where it was. The operation and the approach depends on the site of the testis and the age of the boy. Examination will throw up 2 possibilities - either I am able to feel the testis (called Palpable testis) or I am not able to feel the testis position (called non palpable testis).
If the testis is felt, no further investigations are required for the testis, and the child can undergo the surgery after routine investigations. This surgery is usually done on a day care basis - the child comes in the morning, gets operated and leaves by the evening or night. The surgery lasts for about 1 - 1½ hours. There are 2 incisions in this - one in the inguinal region for the isolation and mobilization of the testis, and the second on the scrotum where the testis is finally brought and sutured to prevent ascent.

Testis found in the inguinal canal
Testis found in the inguinal canal

The testis with blood vessels separated from hernia sac
The testis with blood vessels separated from hernia sac

Testis brought down and fixed in scrotum
Testis brought down and fixed in scrotum

The child does not have to stay in the hospital for more than a day and goes home the same evening or the next morning. In the post operative period, there will be a swelling both in the inguinal and the scrotal region. This is expected due to the surgery and should not be a cause of worry to the parents of the child. The swelling will gradually decrease within the next few days and the hardening of the incision in the inguinal region will also soften over 3 months. Later, the incision will just be seen but not felt. Usually antibiotic and anti inflammatory drugs are given in the immediate post operative period. The dressing is opened on the 7th post operative day and left open. Since the sutures used are absorbable, no suture removal is required. Child can start having a bath after the dressing is removed and is allowed full normal activities including sports after 6 weeks of the surgery.

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