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The surgical management of infants and children with ambiguous genitalia. Lessons learned from 25 years.

  • K Newman
  • J Randolph
  • K Anderson
Publication Date
Jun 01, 1992
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Over a 25-year period, 91 children with ambiguous genitalia have received surgical management. Female sex assignment was made for 79. Of these, 60 patients underwent extensive clitoral reconstruction consonant with the female assignment. Forty-two patients had vaginal reconstruction. Factors relating to success include: (1) prompt and appropriate sex assignment; (2) early and accurate diagnosis; (3) conservative reconstruction of the clitoris at an early age (less than 1 year); and (4) choice of vaginal reconstruction based on the severity of the malformation. Long-term follow-up demonstrates satisfactory anatomic and functional results when clitoral surgery alone was required. Functional results for patients with extensive vaginal reconstruction have been compromised. Physicians caring for children with congenital intersexual anomalies can expect to encounter a wide spectrum of anatomic and physiologic derangements. Cosmetic appearance alone is an inadequate measure of success because endocrinologic, social, psychological, and sexual factors must be blended into comprehensive evaluation of these patients. The management plan must be flexible and individualized, incorporating long-term follow-up to adulthood.

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