Orchiopexy is a surgical procedure in which a testicle is fixed in the scrotum. This procedure is most commonly performed in men and boys with undescended testicles, although it can also be used to repair testicular torsion. The orchiopexy surgery is relatively straightforward, and is sometimes done as an outpatient procedure. If a patient does need to stay in the hospital after the surgery, the hospital stay is typically very brief.
In the case of males with cryptorchidism, the technical term for an undescended testicle, the surgeon locates the testicle in the abdomen and brings it down into the scrotum, stitching it in place to give it a chance to settle. The sutures will absorb as the surgery site heals. Sometimes, this procedure can be done laparoscopically, with the use of surgical instruments inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. In other cases, it may be necessary to make an incision to locate the testicle so that it can be moved.
Undescended testicles are often recognized when men are very young, with the procedure commonly being done in infancy or young boyhood by a pediatric urologist. The procedure can also be performed in adults who have not had the surgery, including people with chromosomal variations which may have concealed the fact that they had undescended testicles. Healing time after orchiopexy surgery is generally very rapid, although people do need to avoid vigorous physical activity, contact sports, and riding bicycles or horses for a few days after the surgery.
Orchiopexy is recommended for people with cryptorchidism for a number of reasons. The first has to do with the cancer risk associated with undescended testicles. The second has to do with fertility; orchiopexy can reduce the risk of fertility problems in the future, which may become a concern at some point. Adults may also opt to have the testicle removed if they are not interested in having children or if they have been raised with a female gender identity.
In the case of testicular torsion, orchiopexy surgery is used to correct the torsion, if possible, and to fix the testicle back in place. It is not always possible to repair torsion, as the loss of blood to the testicle may have gone on long enough that the tissue has become necrotic. Rapid intervention is critical, and will also bring about relief for the patient, as testicular torsion can be an extremely painful medical condition.