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Wellington Children's Hospital

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Undescended Testes

Undescended testes occur in less than 4% of children, and are more common in premature babies. Many “undescended” testes are simply lying very high in the groin and can be brought down by hand, and some true undescended testes will come down by themselves by 6 months of age. After 6 months, undescended testes always remain so. Normal testes do go up and down into the groin (retract). To be normal a testis has to be able to be brought to the bottom of the scrotum and stay there (if only for a short while). Usually, once a testis is in the scrotum in early life it will stay there, but very occasionally a testis "ascends" later in childhood (i.e. it goes up into the groin when it had previously been in the scrotum).

It is important for your GP to refer your child to a paediatric surgeon if the testes are not felt in the scrotum. If not treated there may be problems in adult life with infertility or an increased risk of cancer of the undescended testis. A surgeon will see your child in a hospital outpatient clinic.

When will my child be seen?
Most children will be seen within six weeks of the referral.

What will happen at the appointment?
The surgeon will examine your child carefully to see if the testes can be felt in the body. If the testes can be felt, a simple operation under general anaesthetic (putting your child to sleep during the operation) would be performed between 9 and 12 months of age. If the testes cannot be felt, a different type of operation would be performed so that the surgeon can check where they are. In some cases, the testes are absent. Most patients are treated as daystay cases.

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This page was last updated at 1:15PM on October 2, 2017.