What are ectopic testes?
An ectopia is when an organ, or a part of an organ, is in the wrong place within the body. An ectopic testis is where one of the testicles has not descended into the scrotum as normal, but instead has taken a different path and has descended through the abdominal cavity until it has settled in the pre-pubic area in the inguinal canal, instead of in the scrotum.
The difference between ectopic testes and cryptorchidism (undescended testicle) , is that in the latter case the testicle has not descended completely, so it is not in its normal position within the scrotum either.
Ectopic testes are the most common genital malformation in children, occurring to a greater extent in children who are born prematurely. In many cases, the ectopia is cured by itself without needing treatment. This development will depend on how high the position of the testicle is and whether it occurs in a single testicle or to both testicles.
In cases where the testicle does not descend naturally and is not treated, it will not be a serious illness for the patient, but it will affect their fertility. At the moment, there are very few cases that keep the ectopic testes after the first year of life, but the important thing is to treat the anomaly in time so that fertility is not affected.
Symptoms of ectopic testes
Ectopic testes do not show related symptoms, but the absence of one or both testicles is immediately noticeable in the baby, due to their empty scrotal sac. When parents detect any irregularity of this type they can go to a paediatrician's practice to get a diagnosis.
Ectopic testes are usually corrected in the first year of life, but if this does not happen, it will require surgical treatment.
Medical tests for ectopic testes
This genital malformation is diagnosed by physical examination, and further tests are usually not necessary. It is usually detected in the first visits to the paediatrician, who will touch the scrotal sac carefully to detect the position of the testicle. After the first year of the baby's life, a scan will be performed again to see if the testicle has been placed in its correct position.
What are the causes of ectopic testes?
Ectopic testes are a symptom of a congenital malformation syndrome, which can be caused by congenital endocrine abnormalities during pregnancy.
Can ectopic testes be prevented?
There is no way to prevent this genital malformation. The testicles develop during pregnancy, and at birth may not have been placed in its correct position. There is a higher prevalence in premature babies.
Treatments for ectopic testes
At the age of one, the paediatrician will examine the baby to check the position of the testicles: if you can feel the testicle when you touch it, even if it is not in its correct position, it is not a problem since the testicle will normally descend and be placed in its position during puberty.
However, if you cannot feel the testicle, it means that it remains hidden in the abdominal area. In this case, the necessary treatment would be laparoscopic surgery to place the testicle in the scrotum.
Which specialist treats ectopic testes?
A paediatrician is the specialist in charge of detecting this anomaly. Also, if there is a need for surgical treatment, a paediatric surgeon will perform it. In case the problem has not been treated in childhood, an adult should go to a urologist to know what treatment options are available.