Neonatal Torsion: A 14-Year Experience and Proposed Algorithm for Management

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Management of neonatal torsion is controversial, since the likelihood of testicular salvage and metachronous contralateral torsion must be weighed against the risk of neonatal anesthesia. We reviewed a large series of such cases and stratified neonatal torsion based on time of presentation to determine the potential for testicular salvage. To our knowledge this is the largest series of its kind in the literature.

Materials and Methods:

All cases of neonatal torsion were classified as either prenatal (noted at the time of delivery) or postnatal (noted after birth and before age 1 month). The charts of all patients were reviewed and data were collected on demographic information, pregnancy and birth history, laterality, physical examination findings, radiological imaging, intraoperative findings, anesthetic morbidities, perioperative complications and pathological diagnoses. Followup data were also collected for patients who underwent detorsion and orchiopexy.


A total of 16 neonatal torsions (right side 8, left side 6, bilateral 1) were diagnosed in 15 patients at our institution between 1993 and 2007. A total of 13 torsions (81%) were prenatal and 3 (19%) were postnatal. All 13 prenatal torsions (100%) resulted in infarction (right 7, left 4, bilateral 2) confirmed by pathological examination. All patients underwent testicular exploration via an inguinal approach. A total of 11 cases were managed by orchiectomy at an average of 7.6 days (range 0 to 37) following birth. One of the bilaterally torsed testes showed infarction and necrosis on biopsy, and was detorsed and fixed in place. A second prenatally torsed testis was detorsed and pexed but atrophied on followup. Among the 3 postnatal torsions 1 (33%) was deemed viable on exploration and, therefore, salvaged. Of the 10 prenatal torsions with known prenatal history 5 (50%) were associated with at least 1 significant prenatal complication. Nine of the 10 patients with prenatal torsion (90%) were delivered vaginally, and 1 by cesarean section after prolonged failure of descent.


Complicated pregnancies and vaginal deliveries seem to predispose patients to testicular torsion. Contrary to previous series, neonatal torsions do not appear to favor one side or the other. Prenatal torsions are never salvageable, and, therefore, do not warrant emergent intervention. Postnatal torsions are sometimes salvaged, and a judicious approach to surgical exploration should be taken.

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