Testicular Torsion

What is Testicular Torsion?

Testicular torsion is a rare condition that causes a twisting of the reproductive organ that produces sperm and male hormones. The testicle rotates in such a way that the cord supplying blood from the abdomen to the scrotum becomes twisted. The more it is twisted, the more quickly damage can occur. The condition may manifest after injury to the testicles, vigorous activity, or even after sleep.

It is currently not known why testicular torsion happens. It does appear that males who experience it inherit a trait that lets the testicles maneuver freely within the scrotum. However, not all males with the trait will develop testicular torsion. It is possible that cold temperatures and fast testicle growth during puberty might also play a part. The condition is most often seen in teenagers who have had a previous occurrence or a family history of testicular torsion.

What are the Symptoms of Testicular Torsion?

Testicular torsion is characterized by a sudden and severe swelling and pain in the testicles. Patients may also notice that one testicle is sitting higher than the other or at an abnormal angle. Additionally, symptoms often include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Painful urination

How is Testicular Torsion Treated?

Testicular torsion is a condition that requires immediate emergency medical care when it sets in suddenly with severe pain. Many cases require surgical repair in order to correct the twisting. While a doctor may be able to push on the scrotum to put the testicle back in place, surgery will still be needed to stop it from happening again. To do this, the testicles will be stitched to the inside of the scrotum. The sooner the surgery takes place, the better. The general consensus is to have it done within six hours of symptom onset to improve the chances of saving the testicle. If more than 48 hours pass, the chances of needing to have the affected testicle removed jumps to 90 percent.

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Last Reviewed:
October 11, 2016
Last Updated:
August 10, 2017