What is testicular torsion?
Testicular torsion is a condition in which the spermatic cord that holds the testicle gets twisted. The spermatic cord contains blood vessels and passageways for sperm. When the spermatic cord is twisted, blood flow to the testicle is reduced or blocked. This condition usually happens to only one testicle, but can happen to both. It usually affects babies up to 1 year of age and children 12 to 18 years of age.
What causes testicular torsion?
The cause of this condition is not always known. A birth defect may cause it, and symptoms may only appear as you get older. You may have this condition if you play sports, exercise, or have an injury near your groin. Cold weather may also increase your risk.
What are the signs and symptoms of testicular torsion?
- Severe pain and tenderness in your scrotum
- Red and swollen scrotum
- Testicles that appear to hang a bit higher than usual
- Nausea and vomiting
How is testicular torsion diagnosed?
Your caregiver will do a physical examination. He may ask you questions about your health and your symptoms. You may need the following tests:
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may show problems in your testicles and spermatic cord, including abnormal blood flow.
- Scintigraphy: This test uses radioactive dye to check for blood flow in the spermatic cord and scrotum. The dye helps the blood vessels show up better on the x-rays. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
How is testicular torsion treated?
You must see a caregiver as soon as possible. Your caregiver may try to untwist the spermatic cord by hand. Your caregiver may also give you medicine to decrease any pain or swelling. If your caregiver cannot untwist it by hand, you may need surgery. Your caregiver may have to make an incision on your scrotum to reach and untwist the affected testicle. Your caregiver may then attach the affected testicle to the wall of your scrotum to prevent it from twisting again. The unaffected testicle may also be attached to the scrotum to prevent testicular torsion.
What are the risks of testicular torsion?
If you have surgery, you may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Even after treatment, your testicle may get smaller or have decreased sperm and hormone production. With or without treatment, the lack of blood flow to the testicle may lead to an infection. The testicle may shrink. The testicle may die and need to be removed completely. This may make it difficult for you to get a woman pregnant. If both testicles need to be removed, you will be sterile (unable to get a woman pregnant).
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have increased pain, swelling, or redness in your scrotum.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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