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Testicular torsion repair

Testicular torsion repair is surgery to untangle a spermatic cord. The spermatic cord is the collection of blood vessels in the scrotum that lead to the testicles. Testicular torsion develops when the cord twists. This pulling and twisting blocks blood flow to the testicle.

Most people will get general anesthesia for testicular torsion repair surgery. This will make you asleep and pain-free.

To perform the procedure:

  • The surgeon will make a cut in your scrotum to get to the twisted cord.
  • The cord will be untangled from the testicle. The surgeon will then attach the testicle to the inside of your scrotum using stitches.
  • The other testicle will be attached in the same way to prevent future problems.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Testicular torsion is an emergency. Surgery is needed right away in most cases to relieve pain and swelling and to prevent the loss of the testicle. For the best results, surgery should be done within 6 hours after symptoms begin. By 12 hours, a testicle may become damaged so badly that it has to be removed.

Risks

Risks of this surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Wasting away of the testicle despite the return of blood flow

Before the Procedure

This surgery is most often done as an emergency so there is often too little time to have medical tests beforehand. You may have an imaging test (usually ultrasound) to check for blood flow and tissue death.

Most of the time you will be given pain medicine and sent to a urologist for surgery as soon as possible.

After the Procedure

Pain medicine, rest, and ice packs will relieve pain and swelling after surgery.

Do not put the ice directly on your skin. Wrap it in a towel or cloth.

Rest at home for several days. You may wear a scrotal support for a week after surgery.

Avoid strenuous activity for 1 to 2 weeks. Start doing your normal activities slowly.

You may resume sexual activity after about 4 to 6 weeks.

Outlook (Prognosis)

If surgery is done in time, you should have a complete recovery. When it is done within 12 hours after symptoms begin, the testicle can be saved most of the time.

If one testicle has to be removed, the remaining healthy testicle should provide enough hormones for normal male growth, sex life, and fertility.

References

Elder JS. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal contents. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 539.

Wampler SM, Llanes M. Common scrotal and testicular problems. Prim Care. 2010;37:613-626.

Ban KM, Easter JS. Selected urologic problems In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:chap 99.

Barthold JS. Abnormalities of the testes and scrotum and their surgical management.In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 132. 

Updated: 10/2/2013

Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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