Incidence, complications, and long-term outcomes of gender-affirming phalloplasty: analysis of a large statewide population-based dataset

Urology. 2024 Feb 8:S0090-4295(24)00055-4. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2023.10.044. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To evaluate the incidence of gender-affirming phalloplasty and complications in a large population-based dataset.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study was done using the California Department of Health Care Access and Information datasets which include patient-level data from all licensed hospitals, emergency departments, and ambulatory surgery facilities in California. Adult patients 18 years or older undergoing gender-affirming phalloplasty in California from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2019 were included. We examined phalloplasty-related complications using International Classification of Disease diagnosis and procedure codes and Current Procedural Terminology codes. Unique record linkage number identifiers were used to follow patients longitudinally. Statistical analysis included Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox proportional hazards analysis.

Results: We identified 766 patients who underwent gender-affirming phalloplasty in 23 facilities. Of 475 patients with record linkage numbers, 253 (55.3%) had subsequent re-presentations to the inpatient, emergency department, and ambulatory surgery settings related to phalloplasty complications. Survival analysis indicated that 50% of patients re-presented by 1 year post-phalloplasty. Asian/Pacific Islander patients had lower risk of complications, and California residents had higher risk of complications.

Conclusions: This population-based study confirms that gender-affirming phalloplasty has a high complication rate, and demonstrates for the first time an association with high rates of return to hospitals, emergency departments, and ambulatory centers. These findings provide additional higher-level evidence that may aid patient counseling, shared surgical decision making, and institutional and government policy.