What is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion is a painful, very serious condition in which a male individual’s testicular blood supply, known as the spermatic cord, gets twisted and cuts off blood flow to the testicle. It is a medical emergency and if not treated right away, within 6 hours, an individual can lose the testicle.

The testicles are the reproductive organs in a sack (scrotum) below the penis that make hormones and sperm. Therefore, this condition has the potential to affect an individual’s fertility potential.

Who gets testicular torsion?

Torsion is a rare but very serious condition. It affects about one in 4,000 males under the age of 25. It is most common in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18, a group that accounts for 65 percent of all cases.

It can also affect newborns within the first year of life, and it can affect men over 25, although that is rare.

This is usually a spontaneous event. There is usually no cause that precedes testicular torsion, although an injury to the testicle has been associated with it.

What causes testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion is often caused by a condition called “bell clapper” deformity. In most males, a testicle would not be able to twist because it is firmly attached to the scrotum. For a male who is born with bell clapper deformity, his testes are hanging in the scrotum and can swing like a bell. This can then lead to twisting. This deformity affects both testes, although it is very rare for twisting, or torsion, to occur in both sides of the scrotum at once.

What are the symptoms of testicular torsion?

A main symptom of testicular torsion is the sudden onset of severe testicular pain. It can occur when you are awake or asleep, standing or sitting. Torsion almost always affects only one testicle, and the left testicle is more commonly affected.

You should seek medical attention right away if you or your child is suffering from any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden severe pain in one testicle that is not caused by an injury or accident
  • Swelling on one side of the scrotum that is painful and visible to the eye
  • A visible lump in the testicle