Cryptorchidism (or undescended testes) is a condition seen in newborns when one or both of the male testes have not passed down into the scrotal sac. Ten percent of cases are bilateral (involve both testes). Cryptorchidism is more commonly seen in premature males because the testes do not descend from the abdomen to the scrotal sac until the seventh month of fetal development.
Undescended testes may occur for several reasons. While prematurity is a leading cause, other causes may include hormonal disorders, spina bifida, retractile testes (a reflex that causes a testicle to move back and forth from the scrotum to the groin), or testicular absence.
According to pediatric urologists:
A nonpalpable testis (unable to feel on examination) is the most common symptom of cryptorchidism. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of cryptorchidism may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis of undescended testes is made based on a complete medical history and physical examination.
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Craig Peters, MD, is the chief of Surgical Technology and Translation and Principal Investigator in the bioengineering initiative at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation.
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