Testicular torsion versus epididymitis: a diagnostic challenge

Pediatr Emerg Care. 1992 Dec;8(6):347-50. doi: 10.1097/00006565-199212000-00011.


Unlike the patient who presents with a potentially acute abdomen, the child or adolescent with a potentially acute scrotum cannot simply be observed. If testicular torsion is present, the testicle must be detorted and orchiopexy performed as soon as possible for fertility to be maintained. Torsion of the appendix testis, however, can usually be managed without surgery. Since the presentations of epididymitis and testicular torsion overlap, it is sometimes difficult to rapidly make the correct diagnosis. Early genitourinary consultation is appropriate in this setting. Any patient in whom testicular torsion is strongly considered should undergo immediate exploratory surgery without diagnostic studies. If the findings overlap, immediate testicular radionuclide scanning should be arranged; alternatively, with experience, Doppler sonography can be carried out. If these radiographic studies cannot be arranged and interpreted within one to two hours, scrotal exploration should be performed. Any patient with an acute scrotal complaint and a negative scan should receive daily follow-up until the symptoms subside. Although our adolescent patient did well, his acute presentation and findings should have warranted immediate exploration. It is only through this aggressive approach that we can continue to increase testicular salvage rates.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epididymitis / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spermatic Cord Torsion / diagnosis*
  • Spermatic Cord Torsion / surgery
  • Time Factors