OBJECTIVE: To explore a series of classic bladder exstrophy (CBE) cases referred to the authors’ institution where primary closure with penile disassembly epispadias repair was complicated by penile injury. The penile disassembly technique is frequently combined with bladder closure in patients with CBE undergoing the complete primary repair of exstrophy (CPRE). Penile disassembly has been posited as a risk for penile injury by ischemic mechanisms. METHODS: A prospectively-maintained institutional database of 1337 exstrophy-epispadias complex patients was reviewed for CPRE cases referred to the authors’ institution, and those with injury to the penis were identified. The location, extent of injury, and subsequent management is reported. RESULTS: One hundred and thirteen male CBE patients were referred after prior CPRE. Twenty-six (20%) were identified with penile loss and reviewed. Eighty-one percent were closed in the neonatal period, and 54% had a pelvic osteotomy. Median follow-up time was 9.9 years (range 0.6-21.3). Of 26 patients with penile loss, 77% had unilateral loss and in 23% had bilateral loss involving the glans and/or one or both corpora cavernosa. Three patients were successfully managed with myocutaneous neophalloplasty. CONCLUSION: Complete penile disassembly during bladder exstrophy closure may lead to penile injury. This major complication questions the continued application of complete penile disassembly in the reconstruction of bladder exstrophy.
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