How to choose the Right Surgeon for your child’s Hypospadias Operation?
Many children are born with hypospadias. It is estimated that in India, about 75000 children with hypospadias are born each year. Except for the very mild types of hypospadias (Glanular type without Chordee), surgical correction is recommended for all hypospadias, to ensure adequate cosmetic and functional results. The biggest question the parents face is ‘who is the right surgeon for my child’s hypospadias operation?’
Hypospadias surgery is one of the most delicate and technically demanding operations in surgical practice. The results of this operation have both cosmetic and functional aspects, which have to be delicately balanced during the operation. The results of hypospadias surgery have a lasting impact on the long-term physical, social and psychological well-being of both the child and the entire family. I have seen families devastated because one child had failed hypospadias operation. There are parents whose first child had multiple failed hypospadias operations and the parents are so terrified that they decide not to have another child (with the fear that if that child also has hypospadias they would not be able to withstand the misery).
Recently I had a follow-up visit from one of my patients. The child had 3 failed hypospadias operations for distal (mild) hypospadias before he came to me. Four years ago, I re-operated on him with an excellent result. The mother brings the child for regular check up every year. The child is now 7 years old and a good 4 years have passed after the successful re-operation that I did on him. During the recent visit the child’s parents once again wanted reassurance from me that he is perfectly ok, since he is their only child. I asked them why they did not have another child, and the mother told me that after going through the pain of having 3 failed operations with the first child, they were scared to have another child, because the thought of having another child with hypospadias (however low the possibility) scared them badly!!! Thus, the seemingly simple problem like hypospadias can have a long lasting negative impact on the entire family. If that child’s hypospadias would have been corrected well in the first operation, the parents would not have been so scared to have another child!!!
Hence it is important to choose the right surgeon for hypospadias surgery. But how? Most parents might think that if they take their child to a big or famous hospital, their problem would be solved. Unfortunately, this may not be true, because success of hypospadias operation does not depend on expensive or complex equipment, critical ICU care, or other gadgets. Hypospadias surgery is a purely technical job, and the success of the operation depends only on the expertise of the surgeon. So it is important for the parents to search for the right surgeon and approach that surgeon.
On meeting the surgeon for their child’s hypospadias surgery, the parents should enquire the surgeon regarding his/her experience, how many cases of hypospadias the surgeon operates per month/per year, what are the results, etc. It is also important to enquire whether the surgeon has done any clinical research in hypospadias and whether he/she has presented or published any papers on hypospadias at national/international level. All these are essential to establish the credibility of the surgeon regarding your child’s hypospadias operation. When the parents are satisfied that the surgeon is truly an expert in hypospadias surgery, only then should they allow their child to be operated by such an expert surgeon. This is the best way to ensure best results in hypospadias surgery and prevent major complications associated with the surgery.