Hypospadias is a birth defect that affects boys. In hypospadias the opening of the urethra is not located at the tip of the penis, where it should be, but somewhere on the underside of the penis. Surgery is required to correct the defect and is typically performed during infancy. Although hypospadias is not life-threatening, it can cause serious problems including having to sit down while urinating due to spray, pain, curved penis, and problems with sexual intercourse later in life.
The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body and carries sperm through the penis to the outside. In hypospadias, the location of the opening of the urethra can fall into one of the following categories:
- Subcoronal – near the head of the penis
- Midshaft – along the shaft of the penis
- Penoscrotal – where the penis and scrotum meet
Surgery to correct hypospadias is normally performed when the boy is between three and 18 months old. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and typically takes about one to three hours. In severe cases, multiple surgeries may be required to complete the repair.
In most cases, normal or near-normal function and appearance can be achieved through surgery, but the procedure is not always successful. Complications can include a fistula, which is a hole, along the underside of the penis or scarring along the underside of the penis, causing urine leakage. Complications can be painful as well as causing problems with function. Additional surgery is required to correct the complications of the original surgery.
Zofran, the antinausia medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline was linked to hypospadias in a 2004 study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The study indicated that there was a much greater chance of hypospadias in babies of mothers who took Zofran during pregnancy.