Testicular torsion is a serious and painful condition that affects males when the testicular blood supply (the spermatic cord) gets twisted and cuts off blood flow to the testicle. When a testicular torsion occurs it becomes a medical emergency and must be treated immediately within six hours. If left untreated one can lose their testicle.
The testicles are the reproductive organs in a sac (scrotum) below the penis that make hormones and sperm. Hence, this condition has the potential to affect the male’s fertility.
While Testicular Torsion is rare and serious it affects about one in 4,000 males under the age of 25. It is most common in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18, a group that accounts for 65 percent of all cases.
This condition can also affect newborns within the first year of life and men over 25, although that is rare.
Urologist, Dr. Dean Wong shares more about Testicular Torsion and how to prevent it on Sunrise. Watch it here:
There is usually no cause that precedes testicular torsion, although an injury to the testicle has been associated with it.
Another cause of testicular torsion is a condition called “bell clapper” deformity where the male testicle would not be able to twist due to a lack of firm attachment to the scrotum. Some males are born with a “bell clapper” deformity.
One of the main symptoms of testicular torsion is the sudden onset of severe testicular pain. It can occur when you are awake or asleep, standing or sitting. Torsion almost always affects only one testicle, and the left testicle is more commonly affected. If one is experiencing these symptoms they should seek medical attention immediately. Other symptoms include sudden severe pain in one testicle that is not caused by an injury or accident, swelling on one side of the scrotum that is painful and visible to the eye and a visible lump in the testicle.
Testicular torsion is usually diagnosed by a Urologist based on a physical examination, a description of your symptoms, and the patient’s medical history. Due to the severity of the condition, a quick diagnosis is vital so the person does not lose his testicle.
An X-ray or tests beyond a physical examination will only be used if the patient has unusual symptoms. In this case, a urinalysis or an ultrasound to check blood flow to the area may also be done.
A testicular torsion must be treated with surgery, although an emergency room doctor may try to manually untwist the cord. During surgery for testicular torsion, the surgeon will untwist the testicle, restoring blood flow to the area. The surgeon will then secure it with sutures to the inner scrotal wall to prevent future torsions.