Snipping Reduces Risk of UTI

Uncircumcised boys at greater for risk for urinary tract infections

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) The practice of circumcision has become more controversial in recent years as parents of newborn boys have to decide whether to snip or not.

A recent study provides some evidence for parents to take into account when making their decision: boys who are circumcised are less likely to have urinary tract infections.

"Circumcision offers protection against urinary tract infections."

In a study led by Alexander Sasha Dubrovsky, MDCM, MSc, of Montreal Children's Hospital at McGill University Health Centre, researchers wanted to find out whether it was the visibility of the urethra that influenced frequency of urinary tract infections in uncircumcised boys.

Past research had already revealed that unsnipped boys had more urinary tract infections, but some researchers believed this had to do with whether the opening of the urethra - the tube that carries urine out of the body - was visible.

Dr. Dubrovsky and colleagues assessed 393 non-potty-trained boys who came to an emergency department with symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Among this group, 84 were circumcised, 40 were uncircumcised and had a visible opening to the urethra and 269 were uncircumcised with skin that partially or completely covered the urethral opening.

The visibility of the urethra was determined by using a 3-point scale assigned by the treating nurse when a catheter was inserted in the boys' urethra.

Among the uncircumcised boys, 30 percent of those with a visible urethral opening and 24 percent of those with a partially or completely nonvisible urethra tested positive for a bacterial infection.

Only 5 percent of the circumcised boys tested positive for a urinary tract infection.

"We thought that incomplete foreskin retractability with a poorly visible urethral meatus [opening] may be associated with increased risk of urinary tract infection," the authors wrote. "However, we found no difference in risk with degree of visibility of the urethral opening."

"Our results suggest that uncircumcised boys presenting with clinical symptoms or signs suggesting urinary tract infection are at equal risk for urinary tract infection irrespective of the visibility of the urethra," they concluded.

The study was published July 9 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The research was funded by the Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute Clinical Projects Funding Competition. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 5, 2012
Last Updated:
December 20, 2012