testicle is one that has fully descended but that can
be lifted up out of the
scrotum by the contraction of the cremaster muscle
(cremasteric reflex), which attaches to the testicle. When a testicle is in the
retracted position, it may rise as far as the superficial inguinal pouch, which
is a small pocket under the skin of the groin just below the
Retractile testicles usually do not occur at birth or in infants
younger than age 3 months. The cremasteric reflex is strongest between ages 2
and 7 years, and retractile testicles are most common in boys who are about 5
or 6 years old. Both testicles usually retract at the same time.
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A retractile testicle can be drawn down completely to the base of the
scrotum during an exam and will remain there if the cremaster muscle is
undescended testicle cannot. Retractile testicles may
be mistaken for a true undescended testicle. It is important that the position
of the testicles at birth and in early infancy be recorded during well baby
checkups during the first year because this information can help a health
professional distinguish between a retractile testicle and a true undescended
Testicles that rise up out of the scrotum in young boys who had
normally descended testicles at birth are almost certainly retractile
testicles. In very rare cases, a testicle that has descended normally into the
scrotum will reascend. Such cases must be evaluated carefully so that they are
not confused with a retractile testicle.
Retractile testicles do not require treatment. As boys reach early
adolescence, the testicles enlarge and the cremasteric muscle reflex weakens,
so the testicles usually descend back into the scrotum on their own. Retractile
testicles appear to be otherwise normal and do not have the risks for
infertility or testicular cancer that are associated with true undescended
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Peter Anderson, MD, FRCS(C) - Pediatric Urology
April 1, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 01, 2011
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