Trends in paediatric circumcision and its complications in England between 1997 and 2003

Br J Surg. 2006 Jul;93(7):885-90. doi: 10.1002/bjs.5369.


Background: It has been suggested that too many English boys undergo circumcision. This report describes how circumcision rates have changed in England between 1997 and 2003, including data on complication rates and on how age, medical indication and surgical specialty affect postoperative haemorrhage rates.

Methods: Data were extracted from the Hospital Episode Statistics database of admissions to National Health Service hospitals in England. Patients were included in the study if an Office of Population Censuses and Surveys version 4 code for circumcision was present in any of the operative procedure fields of the database; 75 868 boys below 15 years of age were included in the study.

Results: Circumcision rates declined by about 20 per cent, from 2.6 per 1000 boys per year in 1997 to 2.1 in 2003. Between 2000 and 2003, circumcision rates remained static at 2.1 per 1000 boys per year. Circumcision rates fell by 31.2 per cent for boys aged 0-4 years, 9.3 per cent for boys aged 5-9 years and increased by 7.7 per cent in boys aged 10-14 years; 90.2 per cent of circumcisions were done for phimosis and 1.2 per cent of boys experienced a complication.

Conclusion: Circumcision rates in England continued to fall up until 2000, particularly in those aged under 5 years, in whom pathological phimosis is rare. The circumcision rate remains five times higher than the reported incidence of Phimosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Circumcision, Male / adverse effects
  • Circumcision, Male / trends*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Phimosis / surgery*