Testicular torsion is a medical emergency that involves the removal of blood supply to the testicles. It can occur for several reasons, but if diagnosed or treated late, it can result in the removal of the testicle. This can give rise to a claim for medical negligence.
Causes of testicular torsion
Babies can experience testicular torsion in the womb, but it is most common among boys aged 12 to 16. A common reason is strenuous exercise. The injury happens because a twisting of the spermatic cord restricts blood supply to the testicle.
Testicular torsion is very painful and should be treated immediately by a GP or in an Accident and Emergency Department. If treatment occurs within six hours, prospects of full recovery are excellent. The success rate drops to 50% if treatment takes place after 12 hours. After 24 hours, it is highly likely the patient will need an orchiectomy to have the testicle removed.
Testicular torsion or twisting of the testicle occurs when the spermatic cord providing blood flow to the testicle, rotates and becomes twisted. The twisting cuts off the testicle's blood supply and causes sudden pain and swelling. It is an emergency condition and, if not treated in time (usually with surgery), can result in the loss of a testicle (an orchiectomy). Testicular torsion is most common in boys aged from 12 to 17 years old and can happen without a traumatic event occurring.
When a testicular torsion occurs, urgent surgery is usually required within a period of six hours in order to save the testicle. The normal course of treatment involves an emergency ultrasound to establish if the testicle is twisted and to rule out an infection of the testicle, which can present with similar symptoms. The longer the testicle remains twisted, the more likely the testicle will become necrotic (dead), resulting in the loss of the testicle.
We have acted on behalf of clients who have suffered the loss of a testicle in the following circumstances:
- The accident and emergency doctor failed to carry out an examination of the testicle on admission of the client, no ultrasound was ordered, and the delay meant the urgent surgery required was not carried out in time.
- The radiologist misinterpreted the reading of the ultrasound of the testes as an infection of the testes rather than a testicle torsion.
- There was a delay between admission to the surgical theatre and the consultant urologist carrying out the surgery.
The loss of a testicle can have implications for your fertility and be a source of embarrassment. Even if fertility is not affected, having one testicle can cause psychological issues, and this factor is often overlooked.
If you or your child would like further advice on this issue, please contact one of our experienced solicitors at HOMS Assist who can check if you have a negligence claim.