Research Article|Articles in Press

Caudal anesthesia is not associated with post-operative complications following distal hypospadias repair

      Extended Summary


      The use of caudal anesthesia at the time of hypospadias repair remains controversial as some prior studies have reported increased postoperative complication rates associated with caudal nerve block. However, these results have been called into question due to confounding factors and heterogeneous study groups.


      Given the importance of identifying true risk factors associated with increased hypospadias complication rate, we examined our experience with caudal anesthesia limiting our analysis to distal repairs. We hypothesized that caudal anesthesia would not be associated with increased postoperative complications.

      Study Design

      We retrospectively reviewed our institutional hypospadias database from June 2007 to January 2021. All boys who underwent single-stage distal hypospadias repair with either caudal or penile block with minimum 1 month follow up were included. Records were reviewed to determine the type of local anesthesia, type of hypospadias repair, all complications, and time to complication. Association between any complication and local anesthesia type was evaluated by univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis controlling for age at surgery and type of repair. A sub-analysis was performed for complications occurring < 30 days.


      Overall, 1,008 boys, 832 (82.5%) who received caudal and 176 (17.5%) penile block, were included. Median age at surgery was 8.1 months and median follow up was 13 months. Overall complication rate was 16.4% with 13.8% of patients requiring repeat operation. Median time to complication was 10.59 months and was significantly shorter in the caudal group (8.45 vs. 25.2 months). Caudal anesthesia was associated with higher likelihood of complication on univariate analysis; however, this was not true on multivariate analysis when controlling for age and type of repair. Caudal anesthesia was not associated with increased likelihood of complication within 30 days.


      Since the association between caudal anesthesia and hypospadias complications was first suggested, several studies have tried to answer this question with variable results. Our findings add to the evidence that there is no association between caudal anesthesia and increased hypospadias complications in either the short or long term. The major strengths of our study are a large, homogenous study population, robust follow up and inclusion of data from 14 surgeons over 14 years. Limitations include the study’s retrospective nature as well as lack of standardized follow up protocol throughout the study period.


      After controlling for possible confounders, caudal nerve block was not associated with increased risk of postoperative complications following distal hypospadias repair.


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