What is Torsion of the Testes?

Torsion of the testes or testicular torsion happens when testicular blood vessels get blocked due to twisting of the spermatic cord. The spermatic cord carries blood to and from the testicles. If due to any reason, this cord twists, it cuts off the blood supply to the testicles. This occurance causes sudden and severe pain.

Torsion is most common in adolescent males. However, it can occur at any age, including in newborns.

What Causes Torsion of the Testes?

Normally, the testicles cannot move freely inside the scrotum. But, in certain cases men and boys have weaker connective tissue in the scrotum, this is called as "bell clapper" deformity. Those having this deformity are more prone to torsion, as their testicles can move more easily in the scrotum. This "free movement" thus increases the risk of the spermatic cord twisting and compromising the blood supply to the testicles.

Torsion of the testes can also occur after an injury to the groin, rapid growth during puberty and cold temperatures.

What are the Symptoms of Testicular Torsion?

The main symptoms of testicular torsion include:

  • Swelling on one side of the scrotum
  • Sudden and severe pain
  • One testicle is higher than other
  • Some men also experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting and sometimes there may be blood in the semen or a lump on the a testicle

Diagnosing Testicular Torsion

A number of tests can diagnose torsion. These tests include a physical examination to check for scrotum swelling, urine tests to detect any infection and ultrasound to check the blood flow to the testicles.

Treating Torsion of the Testes

Generally, in most cases surgery is used to correct torsion and "untwist" the spermatic cord. But in rare cases, the doctor may be able to untwist the spermatic cord by hand, this is called "manual detorsion".

Treatment of torsion should be done as quickly as possible, under general anesthesia to restore blood flow to the testicles. In extreme cases, the affected testicle may be removed completely.

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