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 In Ask an Expert, Pulse Blog, Urology

What is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion is rare, but it’s worth being aware of. That’s because quick action can make the difference between keeping or losing a testicle.

Testicular torsion occurs when a testicle rotates, twisting the spermatic cord that feeds the scrotum with blood. It can happen after a boy has been extremely active (such as during a sporting event), after sustaining a minor injury, or even while sleeping. Teens age 13 to 17 are most susceptible, though it can occur at any age.

Symptoms include buckling over in pain, puking, and having a testicle that’s high-riding and sideways. Teens can sometimes be embarrassed to bring up testicular pain, but it’s important that they can talk about it. Once testicular torsion occurs, doctors have about two to four hours to save the testicle. When a teen can get to the hospital quickly it’s possible to untwist the cord and restore blood flow.

A testicle that is badly damaged needs to be surgically removed. However, patients should know that only one working testicle is needed for fertility. A doctor can secure the remaining testicle to prevent the same issue from happening on the other side. Many men with one testicle go on to have families should they want them.

That said, if it’s possible to perform emergency surgery and keep both testicles working that’s clearly the best option.

Dr. Adrienne Heckler is a urologist at Vancouver Clinic. She employs advanced microscopic and robotic skills to provide excellent care to patients. She is also an expert in urologic oncology.

Adrienne Heckler, MD.