Testicular torsion is a disorder of the testicles caused by the twisting of the spermatic cord. In order to understand how this rare condition occurs, itis important to understand the structure of the testicles. Located just belowthe abdomen, the testicles are two, small oval organs that descend outside the body within a sac called the scrotum. Within the scrotum, the testicles are each suspended by a spermatic cord. If the cord becomes twisted, the bloodsupply is cut off to the testicle, resulting in the condition known as torsion. The testicles play a vital role for the human male body as the producer ofsperm and the supplier of the male sex hormone testosterone.
While there is often no known cause for the torsion of the spermatic cord, the condition may occasionally be present at birth. Certain physical activity may also result in an injury or sudden, strong constriction of muscles attached to the testicle and spermatic cord that leads to torsion, which usually occurs in one testicle only. Additionally, it is the most common cause of scrotal or testicular pain in boys and nonsexually active adolescents.
As the most common cause of scrotal or testicular pain in boys and nonsexually active adolescents, testicular torsion is recognizable by sudden pain in one testicle; redness, tenderness, and swelling of the scrotum; nausea and vomiting; sweating; and if pain is severe, rapid heartbeat. While males of all ages are susceptible to torsion, it is most common in adolescents 12-20 years old. A manual examination, possibly along with an ultrasound, can confirm a diagnosis of torsion.
Upon noticing symptoms of testicular torsion or suspecting its presence, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately. While torsion may correctitself, surgery is usually needed to unravel the twisted spermatic cord and attach the affected testicle to the inside scrotal wall to prevent recurrence.If surgery is not used within three to four hours after symptoms begin, thetesticle is usually injured beyond repair. To further reduce the occurrence of torsion, the unaffected testicle will usually be operated on as well. Complications of untreated testicular torsion include the death of testicular tissue due to an obstructed blood supply, resulting in the necessary removal of the affected testicle and spermatic cord. If the removal of one testicle is needed, the remaining healthy testicle will function normally, supplying enoughtestosterone for regular male maturation, sex life, and reproduction.