Health31 Aug 2009 02:02 pm
Cryptorchidism occurs when one or both testes fail to “descend” into the scrotum. In most cases, the condition resolves itself during the first few months after delivery (only 0.8% of infants over three months of age still have undescended testicles, and in almost all cases, testicles generally descend on their own within the first year). This condition represents the most common abnormality of the male genital tract (it effect 3-5% of full-term male newborns and 30-32% of preemies). While cryptochidism is easy to fix surgically, the condition can pose serious long-term consequences if left untreated. As such, doctors advise that an orchiopexy (or orchidopexy) surgery, which permanently relocates the undescended testicle into the scrotum, should be performed before the age of two if possible.
One of the most serious long-term consequences of untreated cryptochidism is infertility. Adult males with undescended testicles usually have a lower sperm count of a lower quality. Moreover, the risk of infertility rises as a boy gets older. Thus, doctors strongly discourage parents from “watching and waiting” too long to see if their son’s testicles descend unaided. Moreover, men with untreated cryptorchidism have a much higher risk of developing testicular cancer: it is estimated that the prevalence of malignant tumors in affected males in 48 times higher than that of normal males, and that men with cryptorchidism have a whopping ten percent chance of developing testicular cancer. Moreover, undescended testicles are significantly more vulnerable to sports related injuries, such as testicular torsion.
The outcomes of orchipexy are generally good, with success rates varying depending of where the testicle is located at the time the surgery is performed: for testicles located just above the scrotum, the surgery is successful 92 percent of the time; if the testicles are located in the inguinal canal the success rate is anywhere between 80 and 90 percent and when the testicles are located in the abdomen, the success rate drops to roughly 74 percent.
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