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Management of recurrent urethral fistulas after hypospadias repair

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0090-4295(02)02146-5
  • Pediatric Urology
  • Medicine


Abstract Objectives To report on our experience in the management of recurrent urethrocutaneous fistulas in order to understand the etiology and outcome of secondary repair of the failed fistula closure. Methods We reviewed the records of 28 patients between 28 months and 19 years of age, who underwent surgery between January 1990 and December 1998. In all patients, urethrocutaneous fistulas developed postoperatively, and the number of operations for their closure ranged from 2 to 15 attempts. In 17 children, a single large fistula was present, and in 11 children, multiple fistulas were present. The causes of failure were believed to be the awkward fistula site in 12 (coronal fistulas), urethral diverticula in 7, and distal urethral strictures in 4. In 5 children, the cause of fistula formation was unclear. Results The 12 coronal fistulas were converted into coronal hypospadias. Thereafter, the urethral plate was tubularized using a wider strip (Thiersch tube) with (n = 3) or without (n = 9) a relaxing midline incision (Reddy-Snodgrass). Of the 12 repairs, 11 were successful; 1 child developed wound separation, resulting in a megameatus that was subsequently corrected. In 7 children, the cause of the fistula was a urethral diverticulum, which was excised and closed in multiple layers. All were successful (voiding well and no stricture or fistula). In 4 children (1 with multiple fistulas), the distal urethra was stenotic, and repair of the fistula included repair of the stricture using an island onlay flap in 2 and a buccal mucosal graft in 2. All 4 patients achieved a successful outcome. Dartos flaps were used to cover the repair in 18 patients, and tunica vaginalis flaps were used in 6 children. Conclusions Recurrent urethral fistula after hypospadias repair may be a manifestation of another problem, such as urethral stricture and/or urethral diverticulum. Intraoperative calibration of the distal urethra and distension of the repaired hypospadias to search for a diverticulum are recommended. Coronal fistulas are best repaired by converting them into coronal hypospadias, followed by tubularization of the urethral plate with or without a dorsal midline relaxing incision. In resurfacing the operative site, the traditional transposition flaps ( Y- V and advancement) may be unreliable, because their vascularity may be compromised by previous surgery. The hairless scrotal island or rotation scrotal flap is more reliable for these cases.

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