Atypical Presentation Delays Treatment of Pediatric Testicular Torsion

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2024 Apr 1;40(4):255-260. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002969. Epub 2023 May 17.


Objective: The aim of the study is to identify patient- and care-related factors associated with time to treatment for acute testicular torsion and the likelihood of testicular loss.

Methods: Data were retrospectively collected for patients 18 years and younger who had surgery for acute testicular torsion between April 1, 2005, and September 1, 2021. Atypical symptoms and history were defined as having abdominal, leg, or flank pain, dysuria, urinary frequency, local trauma, or not having testicular pain. The primary outcome was testicular loss. The primary process measure was time from emergency department (ED) triage to surgery.

Results: One hundred eleven patients were included in descriptive analysis. The rate of testicular loss was 35%. Forty-one percent of all patients reported atypical symptoms or history. Eighty-four patients had adequate data to calculate time from symptom onset to surgery and time from triage to surgery and were included in analyses of factors affecting risk of testicular loss. Sixty-eight patients had adequate data to evaluate all care-related time points and were included in analyses to determine factors affecting time from ED triage to surgery. On multivariable regression analyses, increased risk of testicular loss was associated with younger age and longer time from symptom onset to ED triage, while longer time from triage to surgery was associated with reporting atypical symptoms or history.The most frequently reported atypical symptom was abdominal pain, in 26% of patients. These patients were more likely to have nausea and/or vomiting and abdominal tenderness but equally likely to report testicular pain and swelling and have testicular findings on examination.

Conclusions: Patients presenting to the ED with acute testicular torsion reporting atypical symptoms or history experience slower transit from arrival in the ED to operative management and may be at greater risk of testicular loss. Increased awareness of atypical presentations of pediatric acute testicular torsion may improve time to treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spermatic Cord Torsion* / diagnosis
  • Spermatic Cord Torsion* / surgery
  • Testis / surgery