The testicles are two organs that are part of the reproductive system in men. They are located within the scrotum and because these rest on the outside of the body, they lack protection. This lack of protection puts the testicles at risk for injury and trauma. Childhood testicular trauma is more common than most people think and it is important to understand it because trauma often requires some degree of medical intervention for treatment and healing.
Causes of Trauma
There are a variety of causes of childhood testicular trauma. Blunt forces, such as being kicked in the area of the testicles or an object striking that area are relatively common. When a child is playing, he may be accidentally kicked or struck with a ball.
While a testicular rupture is rare, it is something to consider. It can be a very serious injury in some cases. This may occur when a testicle is squeezed very hard against the pelvic surface or because of a direct blow.
Testicular torsion most often affects those between 12 and 18 years old, but younger children may also experience this. It can result from a variety of factors from strenuous activity to injury. In some cases, there is no apparent cause. This is a medical emergency.
Trauma may cause a condition known as hypogonadism. This can affect children of all ages, including during puberty or even during fetal development. This is characterized by the testicles ceasing to produce sufficient amounts of testosterone, the main male hormone.
Symptoms of Trauma
The first symptom is usually severe pain. Physical injury can cause the tough covering of a testicle to shatter or tear. This can result in the normal elasticity of the scrotum stretching and blood leaking due to the injury. When blood collects, an infection may result. The remaining testicle may be affected by resulting immune problems caused by the injured testicle. In the worst cases, the patient may lose the affected testicle if the trauma is severe enough.
Testicular torsion may cause swelling, bruising, tenderness, severe pain and the affected testicle becoming enlarged. A rupture often causes severe pain, blood leaking into the scrotum, swelling or bruising.
Torsion requires emergency treatment. This will typically include surgical correction of the damage sustained. If the blood supply is interrupted for a prolonged period of time the testicle may be lost due to permanent damage, so prompt and immediate treatment is incredibly important.
A rupture may also require surgical intervention to save the affected testicle.
Other treatments may include icing the affected testicle, protecting the area as it heals and medications to help treat pain, inflammation and if present, infection.
The child should also be taught how to protect his testicles. Things like athletic cups can help to prevent trauma in the future.
Cleveland Clinic. (2010). Disorders of the Testes. Retrieved on March 16, 2011 from the Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/testicular_cancer/hic_disorders_of_the_testes.aspx
Urology Health. (2011). Testicular Trauma. Retrieved on March 16, 2011 from Urology Health: https://www.urologyhealth.org/print/index.cfm?topic=135