According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), testicular torsion is the twisting or rotating of the spermatic cord (which brings blood to the scrotum).
This cuts off the blood supply to the testicle and surrounding structures within the scrotum.
The torsion essentially strangles the testicles of oxygen and nutrients said Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.
The American Urological Association Foundation (AUAF) stresses testicular torsion is a medical emergency. Testicles will die and diminish in size if the blood supply is not restored within approximately six hours.
Testicular torsion is rare, but most common in 10 to 25 year old males and teens who've recently gone through puberty. However, it can also occur in newborns and older men.
Testicular torsion generally occurs in males who have a genetic condition called bell clapper deformity, wrote KidsHealth.org. Normally, the testicles are attached to the scrotum. In this genetic condition the testicles aren't attached, and therefore are more likely to turn and twist within the scrotum.
NCBI added that testicular torsion can result from scrotal trauma. It may also occur after strenuous exercise, or may not have an obvious cause.
The hallmark of testicular torsion is sudden, severe, one-sided testicular pain reported AUAF. Other symptoms include scrotal swelling, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and one testicle appearing higher than the other. NCBI said a testicle lump and blood in the semen are additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease.
Testicular torsion is a medical emergency and if not treated for several hours, blocked blood flow can cause permanent damage or death of the testicle, said the Mayo Clinic. If the testicle is badly damaged, it needs to be surgically removed.
KidsHealth.org stated that saving a testicle becomes more difficult the longer the spermatic cord stays twisted. The degree of twisting (whether it's one entire revolution or several) determines how quickly the testicle will become damaged. As a general rule, after six hours, the testicle can be saved 90 percent of the time. After 12 hours, it drops to 50 percent. After 24 hours, the testicle can be saved only 10 percent of the time.
Surgery is required to correct testicular torsion, wrote the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, a doctor may be able to untwist the testicle by pushing on the scrotum, but the surgical procedure prevents it from happening again.
The surgical procedure consists of making a small cut in the scrotum, untwisting the spermatic cord and stitching the testicles to the inside of the scrotum.
During surgery, said NCBI, the testicle on the non-affected side is usually also anchored as a preventive measure to ensure testicular torsion doesn’t happen to the other testicle.
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"AUAF - Urology A-Z - Testicular Torsion." AUAF - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2012.
"Testicular Torsion." Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford LPCH: Northern California Children's Hospital. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2012. http://www.lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/urology/testor.html
"Testicular Torsion." KidsHealth - the Web's most visited site about children's health. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2012. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/kidney/torsion.html
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Reviewed April 11, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith