Diagnosing Hypospadias in Children

Every year, an estimated 1 in 125 American boys is born with hypospadias. It is one of the most common congenital conditions, meaning it is present at birth. Hypospadias develops during pregnancy, at 8 to 14 weeks, and can cause a misdirected urinary stream, making it difficult to stand to urinate. It can also interfere with sexual intercourse later in life.

Boys born with hypospadias may have a downward curvature of the penis, which can lead to difficulties with sexual intercourse. The foreskin may appear as a “dorsal hood,” in which the top part of the penis has an excess of skin, while its under-surface has skin only up to the edge of the head of the penis.

Hypospadias can be an inherited condition. About 9 percent of boys whose fathers were born with the condition have it, and 14 percent of boys whose brothers are born with hypospadias have the condition. Most causes of hypospadias aren’t known.

Physical Exam

Your baby’s pediatrician always examines your newborn soon after birth. If the opening of his urethra isn’t located at the tip of the penis, the pediatrician calls a urologist who specializes in hypospadias to perform a physical exam.

Depending on the location of the urethra’s opening and the extent of any curvature of the penis, doctors at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone determine if surgery is needed.

Infants who have hypospadias shouldn’t be circumcised, because the foreskin may be needed during the reconstruction of the urethra.

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