Cryptorchidism: Causes, Signs and Treatments

What Is Cryptorchidism?

Cryptorchidism literally means hidden or obscure testis. The word is derived from two Greek words, "crypto" (hidden) and "orchid" (testis). During pregnancy, the testes develop in the abdomen. They should descend into the scrotum by the end of the 36th week of gestation. In some infants, the undescended testis descends into the scrotum before it is six months of age. If it does not happen, then the infant may be affected by this medical disorder.

Cryptorchidism is a congenital disorder in which either one testis or both the testes of the affected infant remain in the abdomen, in the inguinal canal, or at the external ring, instead of descending into the scrotum. This medical condition usually affects the right testis. Cryptorchidism increases the risk of hernia, infertility, testicular cancer and testicular torsion. It may also cause significant psychological impact as the child grows.

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Causes of Cryptorchidism

Cryptorchidism cannot be prevented. Prematurity is the main cause of this medical condition. Cryptorchidism may also occur due to hormonal disorders. Spina bifida is a birth defect that involves incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. This medical condition is known to cause cryptorchidism.

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Signs of Cryptorchidism

In the person affected by this medical condition, either one testis or both the testes will be absent. The person may also suffer from pain in the groin area. Adults affected by this medical condition usually suffer from infertility.

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Treatment for Cryptorchidism

Cryptorchidism can be completely cured if it is diagnosed and treated before the child is two years of age. It is usually treated when the child is between 6 months and 2 years of age. Doctors usually feel the testicle above the scrotum. If it is not found by physical examination, then they use a procedure called diagnostic laparoscopy. This helps them to locate the exact position of the testis. This procedure involves insertion of a miniature video camera into the body.

Doctors use orchiopexy to treat this medical condition. This surgical procedure is performed in order to move the undescended testis into the scrotum. In this procedure, the testicle is fastened with absorbable sutures. Orchiopexy is performed before the child reaches four years of age and may reduce the risk of infertility.

After this treatment, 50 to 65 percent of males with two undescended testes and 85 percent with a single undescended testis have regained fertility. In some cases doctors use human chorionic gonadotropin (administered intramuscularly) to stimulate descent of the testis.

Also known as hCG, this glycoprotein hormone is composed of 244 amino acids. Hormone injections are widely used as a treatment to this medical disorder in Europe, but they are not used much in the US. Doctors usually recommend testicular prostheses to deal with either absence of testis or abnormal testis.

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Summary

  • Cryptorchidism literally means hidden or obscure testis
  • Cryptorchidism increases the risk of diseases like testicular cancer.
  • Cryptorchidism cannot be prevented.
  • Adults affected by this medical condition usually suffer from infertility.

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There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.

— Nelson Mandela

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