Testicular torsion is the twisting of the spermatic cord which can reduce or cut off blood flow to the testicle. The spermatic cord is the bundle of nerves, blood vessels and ducts that connects the testicles to the body. Torsion occurs because the testicle rotates within the sac. If not corrected, irreversible damage is possible after only a few hours.Causes of Testicular Torsion
Some people are predisposed to experience testicular torsion injuries because of structural defects with connective tissue in the scrotum. More common, however, is torsion because of trauma or strenuous exercise. Symptoms for testicular torsion include sudden pain in one testicle, swelling on one side of the scrotum, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and light headedness. This is most common for boys ages 12 to 16, though it can affect any male. Sometimes it can even affect infants.Testicular Torsion Medical Malpractice
Most medical malpractice cases regarding testicular torsion injuries arise from the failure to timely diagnose and treat that injury. Patients who arrive in time to a doctor, whether an emergency room or their primary care doctor, should receive an immediate physical exam. Doctors can diagnose torsion with a Doppler ultrasound, which uses sound waves to detect blood flow. Some hospital facilities may also use radionuclide scanning.
Once diagnosed, testicular torsion usually requires immediate surgery. In most cases, the testicle can be saved if surgery is performed within six hours. However, it may still be possible to save some testicular function even if surgery is performed after six hours. If surgery is not performed, the testicle may atrophy and will need to be removed. Infection is also possible. The main injury associated with loss of a testicle is the potential inability to father children. Many males continue to have a viable testicle, but there is obviously a 50% decrease in semen. Speaking frankly, there is also the concern about embarrassment of having only one testicle. It is one of those things... you might not think it is a big deal unless it happens to you.Testicular Torsion Verdicts & Settlements
One interesting article, Medicolegal aspects of testicular torsion, provides some information about settlements and verdicts for cases handled by one New Jersey-based insurance company from 1979 to 1997. Here are the details for 39 cases:
- 26 cases received payments (67%)
- 25 cases were settled
- 14 cases went to trial, with 13 found in favor of the defendant, and one in favor of the plaintiff
- The median payment was $45,000.00
This data confirms what we already know about most medical malpractice lawsuits - most cases settle, and those that don't are the tough ones, which means a defense verdict is more likely. The median payment amount strikes me as low, however. Perhaps this is in large part due to the dated nature of the cases - this information is from 15 years ago. In today's society, men and women are willing to pay small fortunes for the chance to have their own babies. That comes with its own attendant medical costs, and shows how emotional the issue can be.Verdicts Over Last Few Years
The vast majority of testicular torsion cases reach a settlement before going to trial. That's the good news. The bad news is that most of the cases that do go to trial end up with defense verdicts.
Here are some testicular torsion verdicts in recent years:
- 2012: $0 (Dallas, Texas defense verdict - ER doctor successfully argued that the either the torsion developed after the emergency room visit or the radiologist misinterpreted the ultrasound
- 2011: $500,000 (Michigan - urologist told ER doctor to release 19 year-old patient - case proceed to trial against ER doctor)
- 2009: $0 (Florida case involving a 15 year-old boy)
- 2008: $500,000 (Massachusetts case involving testicular torsion in 14 year old boy resulting in loss of testicle)
In Maryland, the results have not been better:
- 2006: $0 (Montgomery County defense verdict defended by the Annapolis firm of Wharton, Levin, Ehrmantraut & Klein
- 1999: $0 (Prince George's County defense verdict in loss of testicle/sterility claim against pediatrician.
Does this mean you have no hope of bringing a successful claim in Maryland? Of course not. What it means - again - is that most of these cases settle if they are good cases.More Information
- Three Dangerous Testicular Torsion Myths
- Medical malpractice claims in Maryland: an overview
If you think you and/or your son have a potential testicular torsion case, call 800-553-8082 to discuss your potential case or get a free no obligation case evaluation.