Orchidopexy or orchiopexy is a surgery that treats undescended testicles in the scrotum. This surgery usually is performed on infants and children between ages 6 months to 2 years old.
Usually, a specialist like a pediatric urologist or other child specialist performs this type of surgery. While older children or teens may have this surgery, it is not common.
However, if an undescended testicle is present in older children or adults it is often removed because it can increase the risk for testicular cancer.
The orchidopexy Operation
To accomplish the task, a doctor will create a small incision or a couple of incisions in the scrotum or groin, or in some cases in the abdomen, so the surgeon can reach the testicle and then lower it into the scrotum.
Some surgeons can perform this surgery using a less invasive technique known as laparoscopy if the undescended testicle is located in the abdomen or another convenient location.
General anesthesia is necessary for an orchiopexy whether the surgeon makes a traditional incision or uses laparoscopy. More often than not the testicles are repaired in one operation, however, there may be times when the testicles need to be removed and then reattached and re-implanted into the body.
Alternatives to orchidopexy surgery
The only real treatment for undescended testicles is to leave them as they are. Surgery is the only definitive way to correct the problem and even surgery isn't foolproof, because in rare instances the testicle may re-ascend into the abdomen or other locations in the body.
Before orchidopexy operation
Before the procedure, the doctor may recommend the patient abstain from food for 12 hours before surgery to prevent complications from anesthesia.
Patients may also receive radiograph imaging to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor may mark the testicle to be operated on, so the healthy testicle is not affected.
After orchidopexy operation
Many people can have the surgery performed on an outpatient. Following the surgery, the patient should avoid contact with games that can injure the genitals and surrounding area. Most patients will have a follow-up exam within three months following the surgery.
Possible Complications associated with orchidopexy
Some complications can arise from surgery. The surgery may not always be successful. The surgery is nearly always successful if the testicles are located just above the scrotum and usually successful if the testicles are ascended in the inguinal canal. Surgery is just under 75% effective for boys with testicles located in the stomach or abdomen.
Some risks associated with orchidopexy may include:
- An increased risk of infection following surgery.
- Risk of excessive bleeding and blood clots especially in the scrotum.
- Damage to the tissues surrounding the scrotum affecting the blood supply to the testicle. This may cause the testicle to shrink.
Sometimes the testicles ascend again following the surgery, so a second surgery is necessary to cause them to descend again (although this complication is very rare).