What are undescended testes?

This is when the child’s testes are not in their usual place in the scrotum. Generally, only one of the testes is affected, but on rare occasions, both testes fail to travel to the scrotum. While your child is in the womb, the testes are developing inside his abdomen. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the testes travel through a passage into the scrotum.

How we diagnose undescended testes

Doctors usually diagnose undescended testes during a physical examination performed immediately after birth or shortly thereafter. The doctor can usually feel or palpate the testes in the scrotum. However, in some boys, the testes may not be in an area that can be felt.

How common is undescended testes? 

Undescended testes are a common childhood condition. It affects two to six per cent (around one in 20 boys) of male babies born at term. Most testes descend by three months; only one per cent of boys will still have the testes in the wrong place by three to six months. One in 100 of these babies will have testes that stay undescended unless treated. 

What happens if your child had a positive screen (undescended testes)? 

If your baby has one undescended testis (unilateral), they will be reviewed again routinely by the GP at six to eight weeks of age. If one of the testes is still in the wrong place, the GP will see your child again between four to five months.

If both testes are undescended, your baby will be reviewed by a senior paediatrician within 24 hours of the initial examination. This is to rule out certain metabolic disorders and disorders of sex development conditions. They will be reviewed again routinely by the GP at six to eight weeks of age. If both testes are still not in the correct position, the GP will refer your child to a senior paediatrician within 2 weeks.