In normal horses, the testicles have descended into the scrotum at birth. Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Cryptorchidism is a common congenital (hereditary) disorder in horses.
The incidence of testicular retention is approximately equal for left and right testicles. However, there may be differences in the specific location of the testicle in left versus right cryptorchids. A horse that is actually born with only one testicle is extremely rare. One large study suggests that retention of both testicles is rare, 13.2% of cases.
In normal foals, the testicles are present and can be felt in the scrotum at birth. If you cannot feel both testes in the scrotum by 1-2 years of age, the likelihood of descent is very low. In some cases, your vet can feel all or part of a testicle higher up in the inguinal canal. Routine castrations on colts with both testicles are generally performed in the field. If your vet can feel the tip of the testicle, they may choose to remove the partially retained testicle in the field. However, since cryptorchid castration is a more complicated procedure, the standard of care is for it to be performed at a surgical facility.
Diagnosis is by exam by your vet via physical examination and often rectal exam.
Treatment is cryptorchid castration, a more complicated procedure usually performed at a surgical hospital.
Other Diagnoses Considered
Treatments May Include
Prognosis & Relevant Factors
The prognosis is usually good following cryptorchid castration.
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