I'm a teen and while playing basketball I felt sharp pains in my scrotum that wouldn't go away. What could it be?
Dr. T. Ernesto Figueroa is the division chief of pediatric urology at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Written with Inquirer staff writer Curtis Skinner.
Spermatic cord torsion is usually an abrupt event. The key warning sign is sudden, severe testicular pain, followed by swelling and hardening of the testicle.
Many patients also have groin or abdominal pain, nausea, and even vomiting. The risk is greatest in the 10-to-18- year age group, but it can occur at any age.
In this dangerous condition, the spermatic cord, or the tissue carrying the blood supply to the testicle, twists, cutting off the blood supply and causing severe damage or death of the testicle.
Any scrotal pain that lasts longer than an hour or prevents the young man from participating in normal activities, especially if associated with nausea or vomiting, should be evaluated immediately. Prolonged torsion of greater than six hours is likely to cause severe damage or loss of the testicle. When the pain starts, the race is on to save the testicle.
Prompt care often leads to successful correction and saving the testis. In 4 of 10 young males who get this, the testicle must be removed due to severe damage.
The young man should not feel ashamed to alert adults about his pain. The patient is the "gatekeeper" for the condition.