Testicular torsion refers to a situation when the spermatic cord and its contents twist. It is a surgical emergency and affects 3.8 of every 100,000 males under 18 years of age every year. It is responsible for 10%-15% of acute scrotal disease in younger children. Early diagnosis is important and helps increase chances of testicular salvage.
When Is Testicular Torsion Surgery Needed?
As mentioned, the condition call for urgent medical attention, so you require surgery right away to relieve swelling and pain. When done within 6 hours of noticing symptoms, the surgery helps prevent the loss of testicle. Waiting for 12 hours may result in testicle damage and often requires its removal.
Before the Procedure
As it is a surgical emergency, there is usually not enough time to conduct many tests before the procedure. Your doctor may still order imaging tests to check tissue death and blood flow. In most cases, you will take pain medicines and go straight to the emergency room for surgery.
Just like other surgical procedures, there are risks associated with the surgery. The most common risks are bleeding, infection of the incision, reaction to anesthesia, and poor or complete loss of blood flow to the testicle.
How Is Testicular Torsion Surgery Performed?
The procedure is done under epidural or general anesthesia. Here is more about it:
- Your surgeon will first make an incision in your scrotum to untwist the spermatic cord. They will then inspect your testicle for any signs of tissue damage or necrosis.
- They will remove your testicle if they notice excessive tissue death due to loss of blood flow.
- They will suture your testicle to your scrotal wall if they believe the tissue is healthy. They will then close the incision.
Testicular Torsion in Newborns and Infants
The condition can affect infants and newborns but is not that common. If it happens, the testicle of an infant will swell and look hard and dark in color. Surgery is usually the only option here because ultrasound fails to detect reduced blood supply to this area.
It is worth mentioning that when a newborn has symptoms of testicular torsion, it may already be late to prevent the damage through surgery. There are also several risks linked to general anesthesia. Still, emergency surgery may help save part of the testicle and even ensures the other testicle does not experience the same. Testicular torsion surgeryin infants often helps prevent future fertility.
It is not possible to save the testicle if torsion is left untreated for long. This is when your doctor removes it surgically. It is important to keep in mind that you can still produce male hormones and make a woman pregnant if you have had removed one testicle but still have the other one intact. You can opt for an artificial testicle though for cosmetic reasons. In rare cases, testicular torsion increases the risk for male infertility.
After the Procedure
There are a few things to keep in mind soon after your surgery. For instance, it is important to avoid sports and other sports activities for a few weeks after your surgery. You should avoid having sex and keep away from sexual stimulation like masturbation for a few weeks after your surgery. Your doctor will tell you exactly when you can return to your normal activities safely.
If you wish to have an artificial testicle after the removal of your testicle due to torsion, you will have to wait for a few months after your surgery. As mentioned already, you do not have to worry about becoming a father even when you have one of your testicles removed. Still, getting a prosthetic may help you feel better about your appearance.
Outlook of Testicular Torsion Surgery
While testicular torsion requires immediate attention, the morality rate for this surgery is usually on the lower side, and 99% of cases patients recover from this condition without losing a testicle. The main reason is that most patients are adults in good health.
Just keep in mind that early diagnosis is the key. The success rate is very high when a patient undergoes a surgery within the first 6 hours of experiencing symptoms, but it comes down to 2% when a patient comes for surgery 12 hours after the onset of symptoms. It is therefore important to seek medical attention whenever you suspect you or your boy has any signs of torsion.