What is it?

Testes, also called testicles, are the two male sex glands that produce and store sperm. They are located in a pouch of skin called the scrotum. Undescended testes, a condition that is also known as cryptorchidism, is a common condition where the testes have not passed down into the scrotum. In 30% of cases, neither testes has descended into the scrotum. This condition is more common in premature boys, because testes do not descend into the scrotum until late in pregnancy. In rare instances, boys who have an inguinal hernia repair develop undescended testes.

If the testes do not descend, they can cause complications as your child grows and matures. Those complications can include infertility, an increased risk of testicular cancer, testicular torsion (a painful twisting of the testes that decreases blood supply to the testes) and other problems.

What are the symptoms?

When a boy has an undescended testis, the scrotum feels empty. A physician may be able to feel a lump in the area around the groin, which is the undescended testicle.

How is it treated?

Often, the testes will descend into the scrotum on their own without treatment by the time a boy is six months old. Sometimes treatment, including medications and/or surgery, is necessary. A surgery called an orchiopexy (PDF) can place the testis or testes in the scrotum.

About surgery for undescended testes at Children's

The pediatric urology surgery team at Children's provides next-generation care to neonatal infants, newborns, children, and adolescents from throughout the Upper Midwest. The team consistently performs some of the most cutting-edge surgical procedures available, including newborn surgery, minimally invasive surgery, and robotic surgery, when appropriate. Urologic surgery is performed at Children's - Minneapolis, Children's - St. Paul and Children's West.

  • If you are a family member looking for a Children's specialist in urology surgery, please call the Center for Pediatric Urology at 1-800-992-6983.

  • If you are a health professional looking for a consultation or referral information, please call Children's Physician Access at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free).

Return to Children's pediatric urology surgery home page.