Cremasteric reflex and retraction of a testis

J Pediatr Surg. 2001 Jun;36(6):863-7. doi: 10.1053/jpsu.2001.23956.


Purpose: A clinical study has been planned to define the clinical characteristics of cremasteric reflex (CR) for deciding on the possibility of a prolonged suprascrotal stay of a testis through this reflex.

Methods: Five hundred boys from 3 days to 16 years of age were divided into 6 groups according to their ages and were evaluated for the presence of the CR. After evoking CR, the presence or absence of changes in testicular location and the most elevated position of the testis were recorded. Testicular position difference (TPD), the duration of the stay of testis in the most elevated position (DEP), and the interval for reevoking the CR (IRCR) were determined. The number of consecutive responses after repetitive evokings were recorded as reproducibility (R). Mean TPD, DEP, IRCR, and R values for both sides were calculated and compared among groups. The boys with a positive reflex were classified further according to their TPD, DEP, IRCR, and R values. Three groups were established according to the aforementioned criteria by dividing the values into 3 equal parts. The association of each of the parameters to other parameters were compared.

Results: Bilateral positive CR was encountered in 42.7% of newborns, 36.3% of the boys between 1 month and 1 year old, 38.1% of the boys between 2 years and 4 years old, 75.2% of the boys between 5 years and 8 years old, 70.3% of the boys between 9 years and 12 years old, and 72.1% of the boys between 13 and 16 years old. The highest percentage of the contralateral activations during ipsilateral evokings were encountered in boys who were between 5 and 8 years of age. The highest mean TPD and mean R, the longest mean DEP, and mean IRCR were encountered in boys between 5 and 8 years of age. Boys with the highest TPD did not have shortest IRCR and highest R values. Similarly, boys with the longest DEP or shortest IRCR and highest R values did not have the association of other parameters that would suggest a hypersensitivity.

Conclusions: The rate of presence and the characteristics of a positive CR vary largely. However, suprascrotal location of a testis for extended periods through the activation of this reflex does not seem to be likely. Instead of a hyperactive reflex, the clinical condition, so called the retractile testis, might have resulted through alterations within the cremaster muscle itself. J Pediatr Surg 36:863-867.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryptorchidism / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Reference Values
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological
  • Testis / innervation*
  • Testis / physiology