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Orchidopexy: Surgery for Undescended Testicles

What are undescended testicles?

Normally before a baby boy is born, the testicles move into the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles). Sometimes, though, one or both testicles stay in the body cavity instead of moving into the scrotum. This is called undescended testicles​ or cryptorchidism, which means "hidden testicle."

What is an orchidopexy?

An orchidopexy is an operation to lower the testicles into the scrotum. Your son may need to have this operation on one or both testicles.

What happens during the operation

Your child will be given a special "sleep medicine" called a general anesthetic. This will make sure that he sleeps during the operation.

The doctors will make a small incision (cut) in the area at the top of your child's leg, called the groin. They will gently move your son's testicle into the scrotum. If both testicles need descending, there will be two incisions, one on each side of the groin.

The operation usually takes about one hour per testicle.

Usually an orchidopexy is an out-patient operation. This means the operation is done on the day that your child comes to the hospital. Your son will have to spend a few hours waking up from the surgery. Your son can probably go home after the operation. He will not stay in the hospital overnight.

Caring for your child at home after the operation

Pain relief

Your son will probably feel soreness in his groin for the first few days after the operation. Your child's doctor may prescribe codeine​ for the pain. You can also give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen​ for pain. Give him this medicine exactly as your doctor tells you.

Signs your child is in pain

Older children can usually tell you if they have pain. In younger children, look for these signs of pain:

  • a lot of fussiness
  • increased sweating
  • pale skin colour
  • refusing to walk or trouble walking
  • unusually quiet behaviour

Taking care of the stitches

Your son will have a bandage over the incision site or sites. These bandages cover the stitches. You may see a small amount of blood on the bandage. This is normal. The bleeding will gradually stop.

After a few days, you can soak the bandage off in the bathtub.

Once the bandage has been removed, clean the incision site twice a day. The nurse will give you instructions on how to do this.

  • Using a clean wet cloth, gently pat the incision site clean.
  • Put an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin lightly over the stitches for 1 week. An antibiotic ointment is a special cream that kills germs. You can buy antibiotic creams at the pharmacy without a prescription.
  • The stitches will fall out so they do not need to be removed.

If your child is still in diapers, you should change them when they are wet. Leave the diaper off for about 30 minutes every day. If your child is older, he can eat his regular food. Your child should have a bowel movement (poo) every day.

Your child will need a check-up at the clinic

Staff at the hospital will make an appointment for your son to come in for a check-up to make sure he is getting well. If you are not given an appointment, ask.

Your child's activities

Your child should avoid certain activities that might harm the incision until after his check-up in the clinic. These activities include:

  • strenuous activities
  • contact sports such as football or hockey
  • riding a bicycle

After a few weeks, your child will be able to resume all his normal physical activities.

Making sure there are no problems

Most children have no problems getting better after their operations. Your child's scrotum may be swollen and bruised after the operation. This will go away after a few days. Some children get infections in the scrotum or in their incision lines, the place where the doctor cut through the skin to operate. Your child may have an infection if he has one or more of these signs:

  • increased pain at the incision line
  • a red incision line
  • swelling or puffiness at the incision line
  • liquid leaking from the incision line
  • a fever higher than 38.5°C
  • vomiting (throwing up)
  • stomach pain or stomach ache
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness or no energy

If your child has one or more of these signs, see your child's doctor.

Sometimes, a testicle will twist or rise up again after the operation. A doctor must see your child right away if he has any of these signs:

  • has severe pain or swelling
  • has difficulty or is unable to urinate (pee)

Call the hospital and ask for the surgeon on call if you are worried that your child's testicle is twisted or has risen up.

When you suspect a problem

Talk to a doctor if you have any concerns. Call your child's surgeon, the doctor who did your child's operation.

Key points

  • An orchidopexy is an operation for undescended testicles.
  • The surgery usually does not require an overnight stay at the hospital.
  • Boys will have to avoid strenuous activity for a few days after the operation.
  • Parents will have to clean and change the bandage at the incision site.

Cathy Daniels, RN, MS, ACNP

Dalia Bozic, RN, BScN

Walid Farhat, MD