Testicular torsion occurs when the testicle, normally attached to the scrotum by a small ligament at its base, becomes loose. The testicle can then twist on itself, cutting off its flow of blood. Testicular torsion is considered an emergency. Surgery is usually required, and it should be performed within about 5 hours from the onset of symptoms to save the testicle.
General anesthesia is used and the patient is deep asleep and pain-free. An incision is made in the scrotum, the testicle is uncoiled, and an absorbable suture is placed to secure the testis from rotating again. The unaffected testicle is also secured by suture because the problem tends to occur on both sides and the unaffected side is at increased risk for torsion at a later date.
After surgery, ice packs are applied to relieve pain and swelling. A scrotal support may have to be worn for a week after surgery. Normal activity may be resumed gradually.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.