Hypospadias overview

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Steven C. Campbell, M.D., Ph.D.

Overview

Hypospadias is a birth defect of the urethra in the male that involves an abnormally placed urethral meatus (opening). Instead of opening at the tip of the glans of the penis, a hypospadic urethra opens anywhere along a line (the urethral groove) running from the tip along the underside (ventral aspect) of the shaft to the junction of the penis and scrotum or perineum. A distal hypospadias may be suspected even in an uncircumcised boy from an abnormally formed foreskin and downward tilt of the glans.

The urethral meatus opens on the glans penis in about 50-75% of cases; these are categorized as first degree hypospadias. Second degree (when the urethra opens on the shaft), and third degree (when the urethra opens on the perineum) occur in up to 20 and 30% of cases respectively. The more severe degrees are more likely to be associated with chordee, in which the phallus is incompletely separated from the perineum or is still tethered downwards by connective tissue, or with undescended testes (cryptorchidism).

Epidemiology and Demographics

Hypospadias are among the most common birth defects of the male genitalia (second to cryptorchidism), but widely varying incidences have been reported from different countries, from as low as 1 in 4000 to as high as 1 in 125 boys. There has been some evidence that the incidence of hypospadias around the world has been increasing in recent decades. In the United States, two surveillance studies reported that the incidence had increased from about 1 in 500 total births (1 in 250 boys) in the 1970s to 1 in 250 total births (1 in 125 boys) in the 1990s. Although a slight worldwide increase in hypospadias was reported in the 1980s, studies in different countries and regions have yielded conflicting results and some registries have reported decreases.

Treatment

Primary Prevention

As it is a birth defect, it cannot be prevented.

References



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