When a testis (also known as a testicle) twists around in the scrotum, the condition is called torsion of the testis.
The testes can move around a little in the scrotum, but cannot usually move enough to twist round fully. In some people the tissues that surround the testis in the scrotum are lax, meaning that the testes can move around in the scrotum more than usual. If a testis twists around, the spermatic cord has to twist around too as it is fixed higher up. If this happens, the blood flow to the testis is blocked in the twisted spermatic cord.
Torsion of the testis most commonly occurs in teenage boys, shortly after puberty. Newborn babies and younger children sometimes develop this problem. It is uncommon over the age of 25 but does occur sometimes in older adults.
The typical symptom is severe pain that develops quickly – within a few hours, often much more quickly. The pain is in the affected testis but you may also feel it in the middle of the tummy (abdomen), due to a shared nerve supply. A testis with its blood supply cut off is likely to become damaged and die unless the blood flow is quickly restored. An emergency operation is usually needed to treat this condition.
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