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J R Soc Med. 2003 Sep;96(9):449-51.

Troubles with the foreskin: one hundred consecutive referrals to paediatric surgeons.

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  • 1Department of Paediatric Surgery, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh EH9 1LF, UK. jimhuntley@doctors.net.uk


To assess the reasons for and outcomes of referrals concerning the foreskin, 100 consecutive patients seen in paediatric clinics were followed to discharge. 18 referrals were for circumcision on religious grounds. Of the other 82, the main reason for referral was non-retractability or phimosis. At clinic, 24 (29%) of these were deemed normal for age, 31 (38%) were treated with topical steroid (successfully in 25), 9 (11%) were listed for preputioplasty, 7 (9%) were listed for adhesiolysis, 7 (9%) were listed for circumcision, and 4 were listed for other forms of surgery. 6 patients were identified as having balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO), a condition that had not been suggested on referral. With the advent of new treatments for foreskin disorders, circumcision is decreasingly necessary. Knowledge of the natural history of the foreskin, and the use of topical steroids, could shift the management of paediatric foreskin problems from the hospital outpatient department to primary care. BXO is not sufficiently recognized as a form of phimosis that requires operation.

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