Around one in 250 males are born with a penis defect called hypospadias which affects normal urological function, and which may be addressed through specialised corrective surgery.
This is the message from urologists, Dr Izak van Heerden from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, who conducts up to five hypospadias-related surgeries a week and who recently undertook life-changing corrective surgery on a six-year-old orphan with the condition.
Dr van Heerden explains that some parents panic when noticing their new-born child has a penis abnormality and mistakenly believe circumcision is required.
“It’s a gross mistake to remove the foreskin in cases of hypospadias which is an abnormal development of the male urethra and is the second most common birth abnormality of the male reproductive system,” said Dr van Heerden.
He explained that hypospadias is a congenital condition caused by hormonal malfunction, resulting in the urinary opening located on the underside, rather than on the head of the penis. In some cases, the penis also curves downwards. These conditions make urination and sexual intercourse difficult but may be corrected through surgery.
Some forms of hypospadias require more than one operation and untreated men with severe hypospadias may be infertile due to accompanying problems with the testes. If hypospadias is not corrected it may also cause physical and emotional trauma.
Commenting on the condition of the orphan from Katlehong on the East Rand, Van Heerden said The Urology Hospital stepped in to assist at no charge after being approached by his school.
“In this case, more than one procedure is required to straighten the penis and reconstruct the urethra. These are routine operations resulting in the child enjoying a normal life,” he said.
Khosi Malebane, chairperson of the child’s school governing body, said he contacted The Urology Hospital after discovering the boy had been teased and that he had not received appropriate medical attention: “Since his first surgery he can function normally, and he is much happier. It’s important to know this condition can be corrected and we’re grateful to the hospital.”
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The Urology Hospital, Pretoria
The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, is the only urology centre of excellence in Africa. With more than 20 urologists under one roof, using the latest in highly specialised technology as well as specialised urology trained nursing staff, it offers unparalleled expertise in its field. In addition, the hospital maintains its association with the academic world to ensure ongoing research, medical education and training and development in the field of urology.
The hospital prides itself on being at the forefront of technology. It was the first hospital in South Africa to perform robotic surgery, implement a robotic pharmacy picking system and now has one of only a handful of 3D laparoscopic surgical units in South Africa. The hospital has undergone major renovations and now offers 127 beds and eight theatres.
The Urology Hospital not only cares about patients and staff, but also for the community, undertaking numerous Corporate Social Investment initiatives throughout the year. The hospital and staff work together to assist selected charities, including donations to The Clothing Bank, uniforms for Sunnyside Primary School and stationery for Balebogeng Primary School.