Before a baby boy is born, its testicles are located high in the belly and as it develops inside the mother, the testicles drop down into the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles). In some cases though, the testicle may not drop down on its own and may stay high up in the abdomen or groin area. This condition is called undescended testicles or cryptorchidism.
What is an Orchidopexy?
An Orchidopexy is an elective surgery that is performed to lower the testicles into the scrotum; it can be scheduled at the parent’s earliest convenience. It is usually performed on babies from 9 to 15 months old.
How is an Orchidopexy performed?
Your child will be given a general anesthetic to ensure that he sleeps during the operation.
Depending on the location of the testicle, one or two small incisions are made in the scrotum, the groin, or the abdomen to allow the surgeon to reach the testicle and move it to the scrotum. Sometimes another surgical method called laparoscopy is used to move undescended testicles when they are located high in the inguinal canal or in the abdomen.
The operation usually takes about one hour per testicle.
An Orchidopexy is usually an outpatient procedure, which means that the surgery is done on the day your child comes to the hospital and will stay just a few hours, until he wakes up from the surgery. He will probably not have to stay at the hospital overnight.
What to expect after an Orchidopexy?
Your son will probably feel sore for a few days following the surgery; his doctor will probably prescribe a pain-reliever such as codeine or acetaminophen for this. Be sure to follow the doctor’s directions.
You will be told how to care for your child’s dressing and your child’s surgeon will also give you instructions for bathing him after surgery.
Your son may begin to eat and drink a little at a time and resume normal eating and drinking as long as he is feeling well.
If you notice a fever higher than 101.4˚F, bleeding or foul smelling drainage from the area around the incision, call the doctor who performed the surgery right away.
For at least 2 weeks following the surgery, your son should avoid games, sports, rough play, bike riding, and other activities where there is a risk of injury to the genitals.
The doctor will do a follow-up exam usually within 2 to 3 months after the operation to ensure everything is well.
Orchiopexy is considered a safe and reliable procedure that has relatively few risks. It is best to choose a surgeon and hospital staff with experience in this procedure and in the special needs of children.
- Placing undescended testicles in the scrotum may help prevent infertility and may reduce the risk of testicular cancer.
- Surgery can boost a boy’s self-esteem. An empty or partially empty scrotum can make a boy feel bad about himself and his body, especially during the teen years.
- This surgery helps lower the risk of injury to the testicle. If the testicles are in the groin area, a boy has a higher risk for sports injuries and discomfort from seat belts.
Some doctors recommend a testicular biopsy during orchiopexy if the undescended testicle is in the abdomen or if the child has genital defects, such as hypospadias, or a genetic disorder. In this test, a small sample of tissue is taken from the testicles and then examined.
Usually the outcome of orchiopexy is good, and the testicle is moved into the scrotum. But success rates vary by where the testicle is located at the time the surgery is done. Generally, this treatment works well in almost all of the males who need it.