When a testicle rotates and twists the spermatic cord that allows blood to flow to the scrotum, this is known as testicular torsion. The sudden loss of blood flow causes pain and swelling. While this condition can occur in males of any age, it is most common in young men between the ages of 12 and 18.
In some cases, men and boys who experience this condition have an inherited (passed down in families) gene that causes one or both of their testicles to freely rotate within the scrotum. Other potential causes of testicular torsion can include:
- Being exposed to very cold temperatures
- Minor injury to the testicles
- Rapid growth and development of the testicle during puberty
- Vigorous physical activity
Signs and symptoms of testicular torsion may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Needing to urinate more frequently than usual
- Pain in the abdomen
- Severe, sudden pain in the scrotum (loose bag of skin behind the penis that holds the testicles)
- Swelling of the scrotum
Your urologist may recommend you undergo surgery to untwist the spermatic cord. Your individual circumstances and how long your testicle has been twisted will determine if your testicle can be saved.
Your urologist will conduct a comprehensive physical exam – including gathering a complete health history – to determine the cause of your testicular torsion. As part of this exam, your specialist may perform a basic reflex test of your thigh, which should cause your testicle to contract.
Your urologist may order a urine test to check for signs of infection.
Your urologist may order an ultrasound imaging scan to check the blood flow to your scrotum and surrounding area.
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