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Testicular Torsion: What You Need to Know

If your teenage son began complaining of pain in the groin what would you do? Assume the causes were minor unless other symptoms developed? This could be a terrible mistake. While it’s true that pain in the groin may signal only a minor problem, it can also be a symptom of testicular torsion, a medical emergency.

Testicular torsion occurs when a testicle twists around its blood supply cord, trapping blood in the testicle and causing it to swell massively. This can happen not only during strenuous physical activity, but also during sleep. If not diagnosed and treated within a few hours after onset of symptoms, the affected testicle will die. Treatment is simple surgery to untwist the testicle and fix it into place with a few stitches. If surgery is prompt, fertility can be preserved. If the testicle has died, the surgeon can remove it and anchor the surviving testicle so that it will not be vulnerable to the same twisting.

In summary, the cause of your son’s groin pain may well be minor, but only a doctor can tell for sure. Get prompt medical help.

Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.

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