Transscrotal Near Infrared Spectroscopy as a Diagnostic Test for Testis Torsion in Pediatric Acute Scrotum: A Prospective Comparison to Gold Standard Diagnostic Test Study

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A rapid test for testicular torsion in children may obviate the delay for testicular ultrasound. In this study we assessed testicular tissue percent oxygen saturation (%StO2) measured by transscrotal near infrared spectroscopy as a diagnostic test for pediatric testicular torsion.

Materials and Methods:

This was a prospective comparison to a gold standard diagnostic test study that evaluated near infrared spectroscopy %StO2 readings to diagnose testicular torsion. The gold standard for torsion diagnosis was standard clinical care. From 2013 to 2015 males with acute scrotum for more than 1 month and who were less than 18 years old were recruited. Near infrared spectroscopy %StO2 readings were obtained for affected and unaffected testes. Near infrared spectroscopy Δ%StO2 was calculated as unaffected minus affected reading. The utility of near infrared spectroscopy Δ%StO2 to diagnose testis torsion was described with ROC curves.


Of 154 eligible patients 121 had near infrared spectroscopy readings. Median near infrared spectroscopy Δ%StO2 in the 36 patients with torsion was 2.0 (IQR −4.2 to 9.8) vs −1.7 (IQR −8.7 to 2.0) in the 85 without torsion (p=0.004). AUC for near infrared spectroscopy as a diagnostic test was 0.66 (95% CI 0.55–0.78). Near infrared spectroscopy Δ%StO2 of 20 or greater had a positive predictive value of 100% and a sensitivity of 22.2%. Tanner stage 3-5 cases without scrotal edema or with pain for 12 hours or less had an AUC of 0.91 (95% CI 0.86–1.0) and 0.80 (95% CI 0.62–0.99), respectively.


In all children near infrared spectroscopy readings had limited utility in diagnosing torsion. However, in Tanner 3-5 cases without scrotal edema or with pain 12 hours or less, near infrared spectroscopy discriminated well between torsion and nontorsion.

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