What is Undescended Testicle and Labial Fusion?

As part of normal male growth and development, the testicles move from the abdomen down into the scrotum during the latter part of mother's pregnancy. A testicle is considered "undescended" if it is not properly positioned in the scrotum at the time of birth. The testicle may continue to descend for several months after birth. If the testicle has not reached its proper location in the scrotum by six to 12 months of age, we will usually recommend surgery.  

Abnormal position of the testicles may be recognized later in childhood as well. Surgical correction is needed for these boys as well. 

We believe that surgical correction of undescended testicles is important for three reasons: 

  • Cancer concern: an undescended testicle has an increased risk of developing cancer later in life. We want the testicle to be located where detection is easier. 
  • Fertility concern:  sperm production is better when the testicle is properly located in the scrotum.
  • "Wholeness" and well-being: we believe that every child should have the opportunity to be as normal as possible.

The Pediatric Surgeons at Penn State Children’s Hospital evaluate and treat any boy with a concern about testicular position, and take the steps required to relocate abnormally positioned testicles to where they belong in the scrotum. Surgical treatment is an outpatient procedure. Most undescended testicles can be treated with a single operation. Sometimes several procedures are needed to achieve best results. 

Infant girls may have abnormal development of the external genitalia called "labial fusion".  The labia minora are fused together covering the vaginal opening. Treatment initially involves application of a steroid (estrogen) cream to the area of fusion. Under the influence of the steroid cream and the light pressure applied during application, the labia may separate. If medical treatment is unsuccessful or if the labia fuse again after medical treatment, surgical treatment may be recommended. The Pediatric Surgeons at Penn State Children’s Hospital operate to separate labial fusion. The operation is performed as an outpatient. 

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