Undescended testes


These guidelines have been produced to guide clinical decision making for general practitioners (GPs). They are not strict protocols. Clinical common-sense should be applied at all times. These clinical guidelines should never be relied on as a substitute for proper assessment with respect to the particular circumstances of each case and the needs of each patient. Clinicians should also consider the local skill level available and their local area policies before following any guideline.


Undescended testes are those that are unable to be manipulated to the base of the scrotum or can be manipulated into the base of the scrotum under tension but will retract back quickly once released.

Retractile testes can be manipulated into the base of the scrotum without tension. Once released, they will maintain the position at the base of the scrotum for a period of time.

Acquired undescended testes occur if the child grows at a faster rate than the spermatic cord causing the testes to retract back into the groin. 

If undescended testes are associated with hypospadias urgent referral to General Surgery is required. Please inform the parents of the importance of not circumcising as the tissue may be required for reconstruction. 

Pre-referral investigations

  • Physical examination
  • Imaging is not indicated

Pre-referral management

No management required.

When to refer

Refer to the General Surgery Department when:

  • the testes remain undescended by 3 months of age (corrected)
  • previously descended testes become undescended
  • the child has retractile testes
  • there are any other concerns with the testes position.

How to refer

Essential information to include in your referral

  • Patient demographics including next of kin and contact details.
  • Physical examination report.

Useful resources

  • Health Pathways 


  1. Yeap E, Nataraja R, Pacilli M. Undescended testes. Australian Journal of General Practice. 2019;48(1/2):33-6.

Reviewer/Team: Dr Parshotam Gera  Last reviewed: May 2021

Review date: May 2024
Endorsed by:

CPAC Date:  May 2021

This document can be made available in alternative formats on request for a person with a disability.

Referring service

General Surgery