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Testicular Torsion

A sudden, excruciating pain on one side of the scrotum may indicate testicular torsion, in which the testicle twists one or more times on the spermatic cord attached to it. This diminishes or cuts off circulation to the testicle. If the injury isn’t corrected surgically within six to twelve hours, the tissue will be irreversibly destroyed. Torsion can occur during exercise, but it is just as likely to come on while the young person is asleep; and although men of all ages are vulnerable, the highest incidence is among twelve- to twenty-year-olds.

Symptoms That Suggest Testicular Torsion May Include:

  • Pain in one testicle
  • Swollen, red, tender scrotum
  • Enlarged testicle
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

How Testicular Torsion is Diagnosed

  • Physical examination by a urologist
  • Urinalysis, to detect presence of white blood cells
  • A radionuclide scan or scrotal doppler ultrasound, to assess blood flow to the testicles
  • Some urologists will take a patient with typical symptoms of torsion directly to the operating room

How Testicular Torsion is Treated

Surgery: Immediate surgical intervention to untwist the testicle is required if there is any chance of salvaging the testicle. It is also necessary to secure the other testicle to prevent it from twisting.

Helping Teenagers Help Themselves

As many as 50 percent of patients will have experienced previous episodes of acute testicular pain. Parents should report these occurrences to the youngsters’ pediatrician.

Last Updated
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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