At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, our experienced team provides expert care and treatment for children with undescended or retractile testicles.

Undescended testicles are when one or both of a baby's testicles (also called testis) have not moved down into their proper place in the scrotum.

As a baby boy grows inside the womb, the testicles form inside his abdomen. Testicles usually move down into the scrotum shortly before birth.

When the testicles do not move down, the baby is born with one or both testis still in the abdomen.

Undescended testicles move down on their own in about 50% of full-term newborn boys by the time they are six months old. If the testicles do not move down on their own, your child will need surgery.

Testicles make and store sperm. If testes do not move down, it could affect your child's testicular growth and his fertility (the ability to have children) later in life. Undescended testis can also lead to other medical problems, including tumors.
Hernias are common in children with undescended testicles and they can cause pain. An inguinal hernia is when tissue, such as part of the intestine, pokes out of a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. The resulting bulge can be painful, especially when coughing, bending over or lifting a heavy object.

Retractile testicles are testes that sometimes move between the scrotum and the groin. This movement is caused by a hyperactive muscle called the cremaster muscle. This condition is common, affecting about 80% of boys between ages one and 11.

Retractile testicles are functionally normal. They can often be seen in a warm bath or shower or when your child is asleep.

In 90% of children with retractile testicles, the testis will descend on their own and stay in the scrotum during puberty. A yearly testicular exam with your child’s doctor is important during this time. In some cases, retractile testis become undescended testicles and surgery is needed.

Orchiopexy: Undescended Testical Surgery

When surgery is needed, our renowned pediatric urologist performs a procedure called an orchiopexy (or orchidopexy) to bring one or both of the testicles down into the scrotum.

Orchiopexy can be done in one or two stages using open or laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgical techniques, depending on the location of the testicles.

Surgery is done under general anesthesia. This will make your child’s whole body go to sleep, and he will not feel any pain or have any memory of it.

Surgery will take about one hour. After your child recovers from general anesthesia, he can go home the same day.

Your child will have a small incision (cut) closed with dissolvable sutures (stitches that dissolve and fall out on their own over time) or surgery glue (Dermabond).

The sutures take four to six weeks to dissolve. The surgery glue will fall off on its own.

There may be a small amount of bloody drainage from the wound and bruising on the scrotal area.

Your child will have his first appointment one month after surgery and additional follow-up as needed.

If your child is school age, he can most likely go back to school within two to three days of surgery — possibly even the day after surgery if he feels well.

Your child cannot swim or take a tub bath for one week after surgery.

Your child also cannot take part in contact sports, biking, straddling toys, or gym class until after the follow-up appointment.

Meet Our Pediatric Urologist