Cryptorchid Neuter Day!

Cryptorchid is the term that refers to an animal that has one or two testicles that have not descended into the scrotum. It is recommended that these dogs be neutered as testicles that do not descend have a tendency to develop into cancer. While I have seen plenty of these in my years in shelter medicine, they are rare enough that you usually don’t see more than one or two per day in a spay & neuter clinic.

After finding the second one, I joked with my staff saying, “Someone should have informed me that today was cryptorchid neuter day!” We all laughed and I proceeded on with my exams.

As I examined the next dog, I reached around to confirm that there were two nuggets in the back. Again, I could feel only one. I lifted the little guy up examined him much more closely, so as to determine whether I could feel the testicle anywhere near the scrotum as sometimes cryptorchid testicles are floating around in the general vicinity (in the inguinal region) but are just not quite in the scrotum. If they are able to be found in such a location, it usually means that the animal doesn’t need a surgical explore done in the abdomen to locate the missing testicle, which is much more intense of a surgery than a simple neuter. With the first two dogs that I confirmed to be cryptorchid I could not locate the testicle outside of the abdomen and, sure enough, this one followed in the same path.

I emerged from the kennels and announced to my staff, “No, really — this whole cryptorchid day is for real – we have a third!” Everyone looked surprised and we all laughed, but I wasn’t nearly done with my exams yet and we all started wondering how many more were going to show up! Surely, three in one day was so uncommon that there couldn’t be any more!

Except there was! One more, bringing the total to four. The last and final dog we could actually feel the testicle outside of the abdomen, so we knew that it would be a pretty straightforward surgery. The other three, however, were giant question marks. At least we had one testicle on each of them, making us confident that they had never been neutered and that there was, in fact, a testicle somewhere, just waiting for us to locate it!

In the end, under anesthesia, with the dogs relaxed, we were able to locate all of the testicles outside of the abdomen and perform neuters without going into the abdomen. It wasn’t straightforward but we got the job done!

Ironically, my supervisor joined me in the surgery suite to perform spays & neuters on rabbits, and while I was informing her of the day’s theme, she located testicles in the abdomen of a bunny that was presumed to be female.

We laughed and she said, “You really weren’t kidding about it being cryptorchid neuter day!”