Complication rate after circumcision in a paediatric surgical setting should not be neglected

Dan Med J. 2013 Aug;60(8):A4681.


Introduction: As a consequence of the discussion on whether the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and the discrepancies in reported figures of complications, we evaluated our results from a paediatric surgical department.

Material and methods: Patient file data from children who had undergone ritual circumcision in the 1996-2003 period were retrieved. Complications recorded until December 2011 were noted.

Results: Circumcision in 315 boys aged from 3 weeks to 16 years (median five years) were evaluated. A total of 16 boys (5.1%) had significant complications, including three incomplete circumcisions requiring re-surgery, two requiring re-surgery six months and five years postoperatively due to fibrotic phimosis and two requiring meatotomy due to meatal stenosis two and three year postoperatively. Acute complications included two superficial skin infections one week postoperatively and five cases with prolonged stay or re-admissions for bleeding the first or second postoperative day, whereof two underwent operative treatment. Finally, two had anaesthesiological complications leading to a need for overnight surveillance, but no further treatment.

Discussion: Parents should be counselled and be required to provide informed consent that any health benefits of childhood circumcision do not outweigh the reported complication rate and that therefore they should weigh the health benefits against the risks in light of their religious, cultural and personal preferences. As ritual circumcision is legal, a strong focus on high surgical/anaesthesiological standards is needed to avoid complications.

Funding: not relevant.

Trial registration: not relevant.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / adverse effects
  • Circumcision, Male / adverse effects*
  • Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Patient Readmission
  • Phimosis / etiology
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / etiology*
  • Urethral Stricture / etiology
  • Urethral Stricture / surgery