Doctor running in corridor
A student had to have a testicle removed after a string of blunders over the medical emergency (Picture: Getty)

A university student was left in severe pain and ended up having to have a testicle removed after medics were too slow to treat him.

The 20-year-old, known only as Ryan, was suffering from testicular torsion – a condition that sees the testicle twist and the blood supply cut off.

It is a medical emergency and a ‘time critical condition where rapid surgery can prevent significant complications.’

An investigation found Ryan’s calls to his GP surgery went unanswered and he was originally misdiagnosed and sent home from A&E with antibiotics.

After experiencing pain for six days, he underwent emergency surgery but his right testicle had to be removed because a lack of blood supply had caused tissue death.

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The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) found errors in the care offered to Ryan.


The group has now called for greater awareness of and speedier diagnosis of testicular torsion, which if not diagnosed and treated promptly can result in the loss of the testicle.

Torsion mainly affects young boys and teenagers but can affect men of any age.

The report said Ryan woke in the early hours with intense pain in his right testicle and lower abdomen.

He called NHS 111 and was told to contact his GP.

Ryan made five calls to his local GP surgery from 8am but was not called back until just after 11am.

The delay was caused by an incorrect telephone number being held for Ryan on his electronic patient record, and an appointment with another patient that took longer than expected.

LONDON,ENGLAND - JUNE 6: In this studio shot illustration a NHS uniform close up, with stethoscope on June 6,2019 in London,England. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
The patient, known as Ryan, was in pain for six days after various health teams were too slow to act (Picture: Getty)

Ryan described his symptoms and the GP immediately suspected a testicular torsion, telling him he must go to A&E straight away.

But after arrival, he was not seen for a further two-and-a-half hours and was then diagnosed with inflammation of the testis and given antibiotics.

Over the following few days, Ryan was cared for by his family and a GP at his mother’s surgery advised him to carry on with the hospital’s antibiotics.

But after experiencing ongoing pain for two more days, Ryan was eventually seen by another GP who referred him to the urology emergency clinic at a local hospital.

Later that day, Ryan was diagnosed with a suspected testicular torsion.

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He underwent emergency surgery, under anaesthetic, to examine his testicle which then had to be removed.


HSIB said that questions used by call handlers for NHS 111 were not sufficiently adequate for spotting testicular torsion.

They have now been amended to increase detection in men up to the age of 25.

Ryan said: ‘Experiencing testicular torsion and then having an operation to remove my testicle has had a big impact on my life.

‘At the time, I felt really distressed at the intense pain and not knowing what was wrong.

‘After the operation, I was frustrated that there had been delays in my care and that I had to miss so much of my university studies.

‘I now worry about the future – the effect it could have on my fertility and asking myself if I want to go through another surgery to have a prosthetic fitted.

‘This is my personal experience, but I think that torsion itself and then losing a testicle could affect a man’s well-being in so many ways.

‘I was really glad HSIB looked at my case in depth.’