Research Article|Articles in Press

Caregiver disclosure of common early childhood pediatric urologic surgeries

Published:February 22, 2023DOI:



      Certain pediatric urologic diagnoses can have serious long-term adverse health outcomes. As a result, it is important for a child to be aware of their diagnosis and a prior surgery. When children have surgery prior to the age of memory formation, it is incumbent upon their caregiver to disclose this surgery. When and how to disclose this information and even if this occurs, is not clear.


      We developed a survey to assess caregiver plans to disclose early childhood pediatric urologic surgery and evaluate for predictors of disclosure and resources needed.


      A questionnaire was distributed to caregivers of male children ≤4 years old undergoing single stage repair of hypospadias, inguinal hernia, chordee, or cryptorchidism as part of an IRB approved research study. These surgeries were chosen due to being outpatient surgeries with potential long-term complications and impact. The age criteria was chosen due to likely being before patient memory formation and thus reliance on caregiver disclosure of prior surgery. Surveys were collected the day of surgery and contained information on caregiver demographics, validated health literacy screening, and plans to disclose surgery.


      120 survey responses were collected (Summary Table). The majority of caregivers responded affirmatively to planning to disclose their child's surgery (108; 90%). There was no impact of caregiver age, gender, race, marital status, education level, health literacy, or personal surgical history on plans to disclose surgery (p ≥ 0.05). Plan to disclose was also not different across urologic surgery type. Race was significantly associated with being “concerned or nervous about disclosing the surgery to the patient”. The median patient age for planned disclosure was 10 years (IQR: 7–13). Only 17 respondents (14%) stated they received any information about how to discuss this surgery with the patient, however 83 (69%) felt this information would be helpful.


      Our study suggests that most caregivers plan to discuss early childhood urologic surgeries with children, however want further guidance in how to talk to their child. While no specific surgery or demographic factor was found to be significantly associated with plans to disclose surgery, it is concerning that one in ten patients will potentially never learn about impactful surgery they had as a child. There is an opportunity for us to better counsel our patients’ families about surgical disclosure and fill this gap with quality improvement efforts.


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