Testiclular Torsion – A Painful Medical Emergency

Perhaps the most shared testicular problem is torsion of a testicle. This condition usually occurs in childhood and the teenage years, but can occur in men of any age. Some men are predisposed to testicular torsion as a consequence of inadequate connective tissue within the scrotum itself, but testicular torsion can happen to anyone with testicles.

The term “torsion” truly refers to impaired blood flow. The impaired blow flow occurs when a testicle twists around on the spermatic cord, which carries the spermatic artery, and cuts off its own blood supply.

Testicular torsion can truly happen spontaneously and for no apparent reason. Sometimes it already occurs during sleep. Oddly enough, the cord can untwist by itself before you get to the urologist or other health care provider. However, if it happened to you once, you are most likely at risk for this to occur again and most urologists would probably recommend that surgery is needed to repair the testicle, or both testicles.

In adult men the testical torsion condition is often a consequence of trauma to the scrotum, or from strenuous physical exertion. For example: A softball, baseball, or golf ball hits a man hard in the scrotum and causes the torsion. (I had a patient who was the victim of a hard-hit softball to his groin). Being kneed or kicked in the testicles can also cause testical torsion. The pain of torsion is truly worse than the kick that causes the torsion–so hopefully you will know not to ignore this! (Ouch! And I’m a woman.) Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness are often present when there is an absence of blood supply to the testicle or if the injury is sudden. Fainting can also occur.

Testicular torsion is considered a medical emergency and usually requires surgery within four to six hours if the testicle is to be saved. An ultrasound of the scrotum most often proves this diagnosis by showing the absence of blood flowing to the testicle.

A surgeon, or urologist, sometimes will stitch the testicle in place so the torsion doesn’t reoccur. If the condition is diagnosed quickly and closest corrected, the testicle may continue to function properly.

After six hours of torsion, the chances that the testicle will need to be removed increases. Sometimes already with less than six hours of torsion, the testicle may lose its ability to function. (Remember, you only need one testicle to produce testosterone and to father a child. Testosterone is also produced by the adrenal glands.)

How will you recognize this situation? As the testicle’s blood supply is reduced, it little by little turns red, then purple and ultimately blue. That’s when the pain becomes excruciating–and medical help is basic!

When engaging in any sport with a fast-moving object, guys should either use cup or avoid trauma to the scrotum (in other words, never play goalie, catcher or pitcher without a cup).

Remember, this condition is a surgical emergency, in spite of of your age. If symptoms of testicular torsion occur seek medical attention promptly. Call 911 in the United States, if you are in too much pain to excursion. Somehow get to your nearest emergency room.

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