A narrative review of the history and evidence-base for the timing of orchidopexy for cryptorchidism

J Pediatr Urol. 2021 Apr;17(2):239-245. doi: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2021.01.013. Epub 2021 Jan 23.


Introduction: Consensus recommendations for surgical management of cryptorchidism recommend orchidopexy between 6 and 18 months of age. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted elective surgical scheduling.

Objective: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we sought to review the available data regarding the natural history, surgical management, and infertility- and cancer-related risks associated with cryptorchid testes. The purpose of this review is to provide parents, referring providers, and surgeons with information to inform their decisions to proceed with or delay orchidopexy.

Methods: A retrospective review and analysis of all available articles relevant to the natural history, surgical management, and infertility- and cancer-related risks of cryptorchidism present on PubMed, SCOPUS, and Cochrane Library was conducted.

Results: The quality of historic literature pertaining to the effect of cryptorchidism on fertility and malignancy differ, with poorer data available on fertility. Cryptorchid testes may show histologic differences as early as birth, and some of these changes may have prognostic value in future fertility. Formerly unilateral cryptorchid men have slightly but not significantly reduced paternity rates compared to the general population. Cryptorchid testes have an increased risk of germ cell carcinogenesis, and robust data suggest the risk for malignancy in cryptorchid testes increases substantially after puberty.

Conclusion: The current body of evidence regarding the risks for future infertility and testicular cancer support the consensus recommendations for surgical correction of cryptorchidism between 6 and 18 months of age. During the uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic, decision for orchidopexy is a shared-decision between physician and parent. For an infant or young boy with a unilateral undescended testes, delaying orchidopexy several months until a time of decreased exposure risk is unlikely to result in substantial or sustained fertility or malignant risks.

Keywords: Cryptorchidism; Infertility; Orchidopexy; Testicular cancer; Undescended testis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cryptorchidism* / epidemiology
  • Cryptorchidism* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Orchiopexy
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Testicular Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Testis