Advice Column, Baby, Pregnancy & Baby

Undescended testes in premature babies common, but treatable

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  • Category Advice Column, Baby, Pregnancy & Baby

Undescended testes affects almost four percent of all new-born males, is more common in premature infants and poses a high risk of cancer, a Urology Hospital, Pretoria, specialist has warned.

The condition – also known as cryptorchidism, in which one or both testes do not lie in the scrotum – is, however, treatable through corrective surgery.

Urologist Dr Craig Mamitele explains that if, in the foetus stage, testes do not descend down to the scrotum getting stuck along the path of descent this development is described as undescended testes. The condition occurs in about 30% of premature babies and in most cases testes will descend after birth.

“If one or both testes has not descended within the first year, this will need to be treated,” said Mamitele adding that while hormone injections may be recommended in some cases, surgery is often advised.

“Treatment is successful in the vast majority of cases and should take place as early in the child’s life as possible – preferably within the first year. It is safe and performed under general anaesthesia.

“An undescended testicle only discovered later in life,” Mamitele warned, “may need to be removed as it is not likely to function well and may pose a cancer risk.”

He therefore stressed the importance of doctors checking the testes in new born babies, especially premature babies – something parents can also do.

“Early detection is vital and doctors should immediately refer cases to a urologist for accurate diagnosis and correction. The Urology Hospital specialises in the treatment of urological conditions such as undescended testes and is therefore well placed to address all queries in this regard.”

Contact The Urology Hospital, Pretoria on 012 423 4000 or email

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