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Alternative Names Return to topVanishing testes - anorchia; Empty scrotum - anorchia; Scrotum - empty (anorchia)
Definition Return to top
Anorchia is the absence of both testes at birth.
Causes Return to top
In the first several weeks after the egg is fertilized, the embryo develops early sex organs. In the male, if the early testes fail to develop before 8 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby will have female genitals.
If the testes are lost between 8 and 10 weeks, the baby will be born with ambiguous genitalia. This means the child will have parts of both male and female genitals.
However, if the testes are lost after the time when the male genitals differentiate (between 12 and 14 weeks), the baby will have normal male genitals (penis and scrotum), but no testes. This is known as congenital anorchia, or the "vanishing testes syndrome."
The cause is unknown, but in some cases there are genetic factors.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outlook is good with treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your male child appears to have extremely small or absent testicles or does not appear to be entering puberty during his early teens.
References Return to top
Rapaport R. Hypofunction of the testes. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 584.
Sigman M, Jarrow JP. Male infertility. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 19.Update Date: 9/7/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.