Undescended testicle

Alternative Names

Cryptorchidism; Empty scrotum – undescended testes; Scrotum – empty (undescended testes); Monorchism; Vanished testes – undescended; Retractile testes

Definition of Undescended testicle

Undescended testicle occurs when one or both testicles fail to move into the scrotum before birth.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Undescended testicles are fairly common in premature infants. They occur in about 3 – 4% of full-term infants. In most cases the testicles descend by the time the child is 9 months old.


There are usually no symptoms, except that the testicle cannot be found in the scrotum (this may be described as an empty scrotum). Adult males with an undescended testicle may have problems with infertility.

Signs and tests

An examination confirms that one or both of the testicles are not in the scrotum.


Usually the testicle will descend into the scrotum without any intervention during the first year of life. If this does not occur, the child may receive hormone injections (B-HCG or testosterone) to try to bring the testicle into the scrotum.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most cases get better on their own, without any treatment. Medical or surgical correction of the condition is usually successful.


Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/22/2009

Male reproductive anatomy
Male reproductive system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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