A Parent’s Guide to Recognising Testicular Torsion: Insights from the NCEPOD Publication (8th February 2024)

Written By Sara Watkin

A Parent’s Guide to Recognizing Testicular Torsion: Insights from the NCEPOD Publication (8th February 2024)

Testicular torsion is a medical emergency that occurs when a testicle rotates, twisting the spermatic cord that brings blood to the scrotum. The reduced blood flow causes sudden and often severe pain and swelling. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to saving the testicle and preserving future fertility. The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) published recommendations on 8th February 2024, emphasizing the importance of awareness and rapid response to the signs of testicular torsion. This guide for parents aims to outline the key points from the NCEPOD publication, helping you recognise the signs of testicular torsion and understand the steps to take.

Recognising the Signs of Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion is most common in adolescents, but it can occur at any age, even in newborns. Key symptoms include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in one testicle, which may start in the scrotum and spread to the groin area.
  • Swelling of the scrotum or affected testicle, which may appear higher than usual or at an unusual angle.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, which can accompany the testicular discomfort.
  • Frequent urination or a feeling of needing to urinate.
  • Fever is less common but can occur.
  • A previous episode of testicular pain that resolved without treatment, which could indicate intermittent testicular torsion.

Immediate Actions: What to Do If You Suspect Testicular Torsion

The NCEPOD’s publication stresses the urgency of treating testicular torsion. If you suspect your child is experiencing this condition:

  • Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Do not wait to see if the pain resolves on its own. Time is critical, and surgery is often required within 6 hours to save the testicle.
  • Avoid Applying Heat or Ice: Do not attempt to treat the pain with heat packs or ice before seeing a doctor, as this can complicate the diagnosis.
  • Prepare for a Quick Departure: Have your child wear loose-fitting clothing and bring any relevant medical information to the hospital.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Upon reaching a healthcare facility, the medical team will assess symptoms, possibly perform an ultrasound to confirm blood flow to the testicles, and prepare for surgery if torsion is confirmed. The procedure to untwist the spermatic cord and restore blood flow is called an orchiopexy. In some cases, both testicles will be secured to prevent torsion from occurring in the future.

Importance of Education and Communication

The NCEPOD publication highlights the need for parents and adolescents to be educated about the signs of testicular torsion and the importance of rapid response. Discussing this condition with your child, especially as they enter puberty, can empower them to seek help immediately should symptoms arise.


Testicular torsion is a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention to prevent lasting damage. By recognising the symptoms and understanding the need for prompt action, parents can play a crucial role in protecting their child’s health and future fertility. The recommendations from the NCEPOD publication on 8th February 2024 serve as a vital reminder of the importance of awareness and education in responding to this medical emergency.

Dr Watkin has also filmed a short video summarising the contents of this article. To view that, click here.