Hypospadias is a fairly common birth defect in boys, affecting one in every 200 male newborns. The condition describes when the urethral opening is not in the center of the tip of the penis, but is instead somewhere on the underside of the penis. There is no known cause or risk factors connected to the behavior of the parents but there do seem to be genetic links since infants are more likely to have hypospadias if someone in their family also had it.
This defect will not prevent urine from being expelled so there isn’t any immediate danger. It is however, a long-term issue for a number of reasons. If the boy isn’t treated before he is bathroom trained and out of diapers, then he will have trouble directing his urine flow and would need to sit down to urinate. Also, he would end up having painful erections later in life and other sexual functioning issues. Cosmetics are another common reason for having it corrected.
Hypospadias can be of varying severity. The least worrying variety is when the opening is underneath the tip of the penis or very close to the tip. Most will still want to have this operated on but it isn’t as serious. Then there is a moderate severity of hypospadias with the urethral opening somewhere near mid shaft and the most severe, where it opens near the scrotum. None of these should be confused with epispadias, a separate medical condition where the opening of the urethra is on top of the shaft. Hypospadias is always on the underside. They may seem similar, but are considered separate conditions and have different treatments.
Treatment for hypospadias involves surgery to correct the problem. Parents who wish to circumcise their child should not do so until this surgery is done because the extra foreskin is used to construct the functioning organ. Typically, the surgery is performed after three months and before 18 months. The child may need to be on a catheter or stent for a period until it heals but if there is a successful surgery there shouldn’t be long-term complications.
Hypospadias surgery is very technical and should only be done by experienced pediatric urologists. Associated Urologists of North Carolina’s 15 board certified urologists have a great reputation for successfully performing these surgeries. We have offices in Raleigh, Brier Creek, Apex, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Wake Forest, Clayton, Dunn, Clinton and can be reached at 919-758-8677.