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The Most Common Birth Defect No One Talks About

Medical City Frisco specialists break stigma, taboo about penile birth defects.


One of the most common birth defects in newborn baby boys is never discussed, never seen in the media and rarely mentioned in medical educational material.

In the era where transgender reassignment surgery, erectile dysfunction and incontinence are openly discussed, two Medical City Frisco specialists are helping break down the barriers, stigma and taboo regarding penile birth defects.

Hypospadias (hi-poe-SPAY-dee-us) is a birth defect of the penis, where the urinary opening does not develop properly and opens lower on the penis instead of at the tip.  This birth defect occurs in approximately 1 in 200 births and can cause problems with urination and future sexual activity, not to mention emotional distress later in life. Combined with related penis abnormalities, hypospadias is the most common birth defect in boys, 3 times more common than cleft lip and Down’s syndrome, which affect 1 in 700 births. More specifically, every day, 12 babies are born with cleft lip, 16 with down syndrome and 27 with hypospadias.

“Increasing hypospadias awareness can dramatically improve the lives of patients and families affected by it. Just knowing it exists helps remove the shame and isolation that occur when families are told their baby boy has a penis problem,” says Nichol Bush, MD.  “Better awareness means access to better care.”

Nichol Bush, MD, and Warren Snodgrass, MD, both pediatric urologists at Medical City Frisco, are the leading international experts in repairing hypospadias and other penal deformities. The surgical team has performed hundreds of corrective surgeries on patients from around the globe. Their surgical results are widely published and recognized as among the best in the world.

“This is a very complicated, delicate and complex surgery,” says Warren Snodgrass, MD, “It is important to get it right the first time.”

In 1994, Dr. Snodgrass reported his own surgical method for repairing hypospadias, now widely known as the Snodgrass Repair. The technique restores normal appearance and function to the penis, with very few complications – making it the most common operation to correct hypospadias worldwide.  Patients throughout the United States and more than 25 countries have traveled to North Texas seeking Doctors Snodgrass and Bush for their highly specialized expertise.

“When our son, Maddox, was born with hypospadias, we were devastated,” says Deb Smith. “We had never heard of it and did not know where to go for help and support. It was very stressful emotionally on all of us for several years. We followed our pediatrician’s advice and had our infant son’s condition repaired by an urologist who did not have much experience with surgery and the results were disastrous. In fact, it caused further damage.”

Two families with sons successfully treated by Drs. Snodgrass and Bush are sharing their private medical stories with the public for the first time.

“After two failed surgeries by our local pediatric urologist to correct our son’s hypospadias, we were referred to Drs. Snodgrass and Bush,” said Apryl Bundy, who travelled from Louisiana for treatment for her son. “Unlike most pediatric doctors who only perform this surgery a couple of times a year, Drs. Snodgrass and Bush perform this surgery daily and have had great success rates with their perfected technique.”

The families, along with Doctors Snodgrass and Bush, are hoping that speaking openly about this common condition will heighten awareness of hypospadias and potentially help other families struggling in silence.

Families sharing their experiences with Doctors Snodgrass and Bush:

Courtesy of Medical City Frisco

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