Cryptochidism

Cryptochidism

horses testicles
Cryptorchidism is a condition in which one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum. This is the most common problem affecting the sexual development of male horses. If both of the testicles remain in the abdomen, the horse will be sterile. Horses with an undescended testicle are sometimes referred to as a rig, ridgling or original.

Causes of Cryptorchidism

The testicles of a male horse start to develop before the horse is born. The testicles form inside the abdomen of the unborn colt. Normally, the testicles pass through the inguinal canal and into the scrotum between one month before birth and 10 days after birth.

In cryptorchidism, the testicle may remain (retained) in the abdomen or inguinal canal. It is equally common for just the left or right testicle to be retained. However, retention of one testicle (unilateral) occurs much more often than both (bilateral).

The exact cause of cryptorchidism is unknown. It may be related to problems with the development of the testicle or the tissues in the abdomen. Some research suggests that this condition might also have a genetic cause and can be passed on to offspring (inherited).

Problems Associated With Cryptorchidism

When a testicle is properly situated in the scrotum, its temperature is 3 to 4 degrees Celsius lower than the horse’s body temperature. This is ideal for the production of healthy sperm.

The temperature of a retained testicle, though, is too high. The testicle will not be able to produce sperm. If only one of the testicles is retained, the horse may still be fertile. However, if both are retained, the horse will be sterile.

In addition to producing sperm, testicles also make hormones (androgens) that trigger the development of male traits in horses. Even retained testicles can produce these hormones, so horses with cryptorchidism will still exhibit mating behavior.

This condition may be passed onto offspring, so some equine veterinarians recommend against mating a cryptorchid horse. More research, however, is needed to fully understand the genetic basis of cryptorchidism.

Diagnosis of Cryptorchidism

Cryptorchidism can be diagnosed using three methods:

  • Palpation. A manual exam of the male horse will show whether one or both testicles are absent. A veterinarian may also be able to feel a testicle still located in the abdomen during a rectal exam.
  • Ultrasound. This imaging test allows a veterinarian to locate a retained testicle without the need for a rectal exam, which can injure the horse.
  • Blood tests. If a horse’s castration history is unknown, measuring the amount of hormones (such as testosterone) in the blood may help distinguish a castrated horse from one with cryptorchidism.

Treatment Options for Cryptorchidism

Manipulation

Sometimes a testicle in the inguinal canal can be manipulated into the scrotum. This, however, is not considered cryptorchidism, but is called retractile testis.

Surgery

An undescended testicle will produce few symptoms other than sterility. However, surgery is the only option for castrating a horse with a testicle retained in the abdomen. Several types of surgery are commonly used. In some cases, the less invasive laparoscopy technique can be used.

Location

Find us on the map

New Office Hours effective Dec. 1, 2018

Our Regular Schedule - Call for 24 hour emergency service 920-837-7766

Clinic Hours

Monday:

7:30 am-4:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am-4:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-4:00 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-4:00 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-4:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • ""Excellent and very knowledgeable clinic and staff. Very supportive of area's youth, their projects, and organizations!""
    MARTY NOWAK/LUXEMBURG, WI
  • ""It's been a pleasure to have Dr. Matt as my vet for the past 21 years. He and the staff at Dairyland have always been kind & helpful.""
    MARY PRISCO/GREEN BAY, WI
  • ""I cannot say enough about them! Very helpful with my potbelly pigs! I am so VERY happy I found them!!! They are so willing to help you and not deplete your bank acct!""
    SHAWN CRIBB/GREEN BAY
  • "We love you Dr. Matt! You helped Apollo keep his eye sight, you never got frustrated with my 5 million questions, you were very patient and always explained things so we could understand what was going on with him. Your staff is great at returning phone calls and making sure patients get exactly what they need. You have been the best vet ever."
    DENISE WERY/GREEN BAY
  • "I want to give a huge shout out to Dr Matt Schaefer with Dairyland Veterinary Service. I had been struggling to get weight on Kahlua. She wouldn't eat anything I put in front of her. Dr Matt came out and looked at her and we discussed her attitude and habits. He had a good feeling she had ulcers so he suggested treating her with ulcerguard. I got her on it and she is just 2 days from finishing the 28 day treatment. The change in her is phenomenal. She's put on weight and now looks perfect!
    And "
    ASHLEY THOMPSON