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The role of orchiectomy in the management of postpubertal cryptorchidism.

PURPOSE: Owing to the risk of future malignancy, many postpubertal male subjects presenting with unilateral cryptorchidism undergo orchiectomy rather than orchiopexy. We examined the incidence of spermatogenesis and carcinogenesis in whole orchiectomy specimens removed from postpubertal cryptorchid male subjects. We review the concept that orchiectomy is justifiable in these patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 52 patients with postpubertal cryptorchidism (unilateral in 48, bilateral in 4) were retrospectively analyzed from 1984. Patient age ranged from 15 to 66 years (mean 26). Six patients presented with primary infertility (unilateral in 3, bilateral in 3). The undescended testicles were palpable in 32 cases (62%). All patients underwent unilateral orchiectomy and whole specimens were examined histologically.

RESULTS: Histology showed normal spermatogenesis in only 1 orchiectomy specimen, while 15 had maturation arrest, 6 testicular agenesis and 30 seminiferous tubular atrophy and/or Sertoli-cell-only syndrome with no spermatogenesis. The location of the undescended testis was the superficial inguinal pouch in 32 cases, inguinal canal in 6 and inside the deep ring in 8. Absent spermatogenesis was significantly associated with a high level of maldescent and with increasing age. Two patients (4%) had carcinoma in situ of the testicle. Torsion of an undescended testicle occurred in 1 patient (2%).

CONCLUSIONS: This analysis of cryptorchid testes in postpubertal male subjects confirms that the majority cannot contribute to fertility, have significant malignant potential and may undergo torsion. Therefore, orchiectomy remains the treatment of choice for the majority of postpubertal male subjects presenting with unilateral cryptorchidism.

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