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Testicular Torsion: A Race Against Time for Men’s Health

Testicular torsion is a serious medical condition that occurs when a testicle rotates, twisting the spermatic cord that brings blood to the scrotum. The reduced blood flow causes sudden and often severe pain and swelling. Testicular torsion is most common among adolescents but can occur at any age, even before birth. Immediate treatment is crucial to prevent irreversible damage to the testicle and to preserve future fertility.

Testicular torsion

Testicular torsion

Understanding Testicular Torsion

The spermatic cord supports each testicle and contains blood vessels, nerves, and the vas deferens. Torsion happens when the testicle turns on this cord, cutting off its own blood supply. Often, this occurs without any obvious cause, though physical activity or an injury to the scrotum can sometimes precede the condition. Some males may have a predisposition to testicular torsion due to a congenital malformation known as a “bell-clapper deformity,” which allows the testicle to rotate more freely inside the scrotum.

Symptoms and Signs of Testicular Torsion

The signs of testicular torsion are distinct and include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in one testicle
  • Swelling and redness of the scrotum
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A testicle that’s positioned higher than normal or at an unusual angle
  • Frequent urination
  • Fever (in some cases)

Any male experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately to prevent loss of the affected testicle.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Testicular Torsion

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, and sometimes, an ultrasound to assess blood flow to the testicles. Immediate action is required to untwist the spermatic cord and restore blood flow. If treated within six hours of symptom onset, the testicle can usually be saved. However, the longer the torsion is left untreated, the higher the risk of losing the testicle or suffering damage that might affect fertility.

Surgery is the primary treatment for testicular torsion. During the procedure, a surgeon untwists the spermatic cord and then secures both testicles to the inside of the scrotum to prevent recurrence of the condition. This procedure is called orchiopexy.

Recovery and Prognosis in Testicular Torsion

Post-surgery, recovery is generally swift, with many individuals able to return to normal activities within a week. Pain and discomfort can be managed with prescribed or over-the-counter pain relievers. The long-term prognosis after timely treatment is excellent, with minimal impact on fertility and testicular function.

Prevention against Testicular Torsion

While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent testicular torsion, those with a high risk, particularly individuals who have experienced torsion before, may undergo preventative surgery to secure the testicles and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Testicular torsion is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Awareness of the symptoms and prompt action can lead to a successful outcome with full recovery. Regular testicular self-examinations can also help individuals become familiar with what’s normal for them, enabling quicker recognition of potential problems.