Cryptorchidism - Treatment

Treatment

The primary management of cryptorchidism is surgery, called orchiopexy. It is usually performed in infancy, if inguinal testes have not descended after 4–6 months, often by a pediatric urologist or pediatric surgeon, but in many communities still by a general urologist or surgeon.

When the undescended testis is in the inguinal canal, hormonal therapy is sometimes attempted and occasionally successful. The most commonly used hormone therapy is human chorionic gonadotropin. A series of hCG injections (10 injections over 5 weeks is common) is given and the status of the testis/testes is reassessed at the end. Although many trials have been published, the reported success rates range widely, from roughly 5 to 50%, probably reflecting the varying criteria for distinguishing retractile testes from low inguinal testes. Hormone treatment does have the occasional incidental benefits of allowing confirmation of Leydig cell responsiveness (proven by a rise of the testosterone by the end of the injections) or inducing additional growth of a small penis (via the testosterone rise). Some surgeons have reported facilitation of surgery, perhaps by enhancing the size, vascularity, or healing of the tissue. A newer hormonal intervention used in Europe is use of GnRH analogs such as nafarelin or buserelin; the success rates and putative mechanism of action are similar to hCG, but some surgeons have combined the two treatments and reported higher descent rates. Limited evidence suggests that germ cell count is slightly better after hormone treatment; whether this translates into better sperm counts and fertility rates at maturity has not been established. The cost of either type of hormone treatment is less than that of surgery and the chance of complications at appropriate doses is minimal. Nevertheless, despite the potential advantages of a trial of hormonal therapy, many surgeons do not consider the success rates high enough to be worth the trouble since the surgery itself is usually simple and uncomplicated.

In cases where the testes are identified preoperatively in the inguinal canal, orchiopexy is often performed as an outpatient and has a very low complication rate. An incision is made over the inguinal canal. The testis with accompanying cord structure and blood supply is exposed, partially separated from the surrounding tissues ("mobilized"), and brought into the scrotum. It is sutured to the scrotal tissue or enclosed in a "subdartos pouch." The associated passage back into the inguinal canal, an inguinal hernia, is closed to prevent re-ascent. In patients with intraabdominal maldescended testis, laparoscopy is useful to see for oneself the pelvic structures, position of the testis and decide upon surgery ( single or staged procedure ).

Surgery becomes more complicated if the blood supply is not ample and elastic enough to be stretched into the scrotum. In these cases, the supply may be divided, some vessels sacrificed with expectation of adequate collateral circulation. In the worst case, the testis must be "auto-transplanted" into the scrotum, with all connecting blood vessels cut and reconnected ("anastomosed").

When the testis is in the abdomen, the first stage of surgery is exploration to locate it, assess its viability, and determine the safest way to maintain or establish the blood supply. Multi-stage surgeries, or auto-transplantation and anastomosis, are more often necessary in these situations. Just as often, intra-abdominal exploration discovers that the testis is non-existent ("vanished"), or dysplastic and not salvageable.

The principal major complication of all types of orchiopexy is loss of the blood supply to the testis, resulting in loss of the testis due to ischemic atrophy or fibrosis.

Read more about this topic:  Cryptorchidism

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