Cryptorchidism

DDEDAA8C42E0843F480B860AC49AD67COne lonely testicle.

When male animals are born, they are all born with two testicles. Testicles begin their lives in the abdomen high up near the kidneys. As development proceeds, the normal path of a testicle is to slip through a small hole in the groin into the scrotum. Once outside the body cavity, the testicle is kept at a temperature a few degrees cooler than inside. The testicle grows and as it gets bigger and heavier, the muscle attached to it is no longer strong enough to pull it back inside. It will then remain outside in the scrotum.

In some situations, one or both testicles fail to drop down into the scrotum. This condition is called cryptorchidism. The undescended testicle may be found somewhere between the kidney and the scrotum. In some situations it can be easily felt on the outside but at other times, intra abdominal surgery is needed to find it.

Bruiser is a 24 week old Staffordshire terrier. Although the name suggests a big burley bully, Bruiser is far from this. He is a sweet and gentle boy with a very playful nature. Unfortunately one of his testicles is yet to make an appearance.

The normal process of sperm production is temperature dependent. A viable sperm production occurs when the testicle is kept in the cooler environment of the scrotum.

In normal dogs, the testicle will have descended into the scrotum well before 6-8 weeks of age.

If the testicle stays in the abdomen it may run into a few problems:

  1. Testicular torsion. Testicles in the scrotum are well anchored and the chance of the testicle twisting on itself is slim. Howe ever, in the abdomen, they may twist on themselves and cause obstruction to the normal blood flow. This can be painful and life threatening.
  2. Cancers: Testicular tissue may become cancerous. The incidence of this is much higher in undescended testicles. This is especially true as the internal testicle cannot be seen. Cancers include Sertoli cell tumours, Seminomas and Interstitial Cell Tumours.
  3. Hormone production. The internal testicle may make too much female hormone and result in a “male feminization syndrome.” These dogs will develop prominent nipples and be attractive to male dogs. Other dogs may produce excessive amounts of male hormone. This can lead to prostate disease and anal gland disease. Excessive hormones can also affect the bone marrow.
  4. Behavioural issues associated with excess hormone production. This can vary between excessive aggression, being attractive to male dogs or being constantly picked on by other male dogs because they are seen as a threat.

What needs to be done?

Removal of both testicles is the best option. Castration normally involves a general anaesthetic and a simple surgery where both testicles are removed via a single incision. The blood vessels and tubes that carry the sperm are tied off.  In the cryptorchid dog, the misplaced testicle is removed in a similar procedure, but access to this testicle may be through an incision in the groin skin or through the abdominal wall. The exact placement is based on the actual position of the misplaced testicle.

Bruiser is going to have surgery to remove his retained testicle before he is a year old.

This is a wise choice so as to prevent the formation of any adverse changes in the testicle that could affect the future life of little Bruiser.

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