What Is Hypospadias?
Hypospadias is a medical condition where the urethral opening is not on the tip of the penis but is on the underside of the penis. Urethra is a tube like structure through which urine is passed from the bladder out of the body. Hypospadias may be a distressing disease for a child, although it is a very common condition and does not cause any significant difficulty. A small surgical procedure is good enough to restore the urethra to its normal anatomical position. Once treated, majority of people lead a normal life and have normal sexual function.
What Are The Causes Of Hypospadias?
Hypospadias is a congenital disorder is present at birth. The exact cause of this birth defect is not known. Some studies suggest that it is an inherited disorder. During the development of penis in the fetus, certain hormones facilitate the formation of urethra and foreskin. When these hormones do not function as they should be then this results in Hypospadias.
What Are Some Of The Risk Factors For Hypospadias?
As stated, the exact cause of Hypospadias is not known but there are some risk factors which can result in development of Hypospadias. These risk factors are:
Family History: If an infant has a family history of Hypospadias then more likely than not that infant will also develop Hypospadias.
Maternal Age: If the mother of the child is above the age of 40 then it may predispose the infant to development of Hypospadias.
Smoking: Some studies suggest that if the mother is exposed to secondhand smoke or herself is a smoker during pregnancy then it may increase the risk of the infant to be born with Hypospadias.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypospadias?
As stated, in infants with Hypospadias the urethral opening is not in its anatomical position of at the tip of the penis but is present on the underside of it. The condition may be mild to severe. In majority of the cases, the opening is near the head of the penis, in some cases it is in the midshaft of the penis and in extremely rare cases the opening is found below the scrotum. Some of the signs and symptoms of Hypospadias are:
- Urethral opening not at its normal anatomical position
- Downward curvature of penis
- Hooded appearance of penis
- Abnormal spraying of urine while urinating.
How Is Hypospadias Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Hypospadias can be done by looking at the urethral opening in the penis. No other routine tests are required. In cases where the opening is present below the scrotum the infant may have some abnormalities of the genitals, hence in such cases scans of the genital area may need to be done to look out for other abnormalities.
What Are The Treatments For Hypospadias?
The treatment for Hypospadias is a surgical correction. This surgery is done under general anesthesia and takes usually two to three hours. During surgery, the surgeon will use tissue graft from the foreskin and reconstruct the urethral channel with the opening in the normal anatomical position thus correcting the anomaly. Only in rare cases does an infant require more than one surgery.
The best time to do the corrective surgery for Hypospadias is when the infant is between three months to one and a half years of age. It is advised that if the surgery is done earlier then it is less traumatic for the patient even though the corrective surgery can be done at any age. It should be made sure that infants with Hypospadias should not undergo circumcision as the foreskin will be needed for surgical correction of Hypospadias.
In majority of cases, surgery does not result in any complications and the penis performs its function normally without any problems but in some rare cases there may be development of scarring on the underside of penis at the site of the creation of the new urethral opening which may cause some urinary incontinence or leaking which will need to be repaired with an additional surgery.
About Surgery For Hypospadias
Parents should not be distressed or embarrassed if their child has Hypospadias. A simple surgery is good enough to correct Hypospadias in infants. It is obvious for the parents to get anxious by hearing about their child undergoing a surgical procedure at such a small age but it should be noted that infant stage is the best time to correct Hypospadias with minimal discomfort. The parents should not hesitate in asking any doubts that they have regarding the diagnosis or the surgical procedure. It should be noted that surgery for Hypospadias is always successful and this disease once corrected does not cause any problems with the functioning of the child in the future.