Routine histopathological examination of the foreskin after circumcision for clinically suspected lichen sclerosus in children: Is it a waste of resources?

Fahad A. Alyami, Zhoobin Heidari Bateni, Raken Odeh, Walid A. Farhat, Martin Koyle


Introduction: Circumcision is one of the most widely performed procedures in the world. One of the indications for circumcision is lichen sclerosis (LS). The natural history of LS in children is not as well-documented as in adult patients. Surgeons use the appearance of the foreskin or meatus to predict the diagnosis of LS.1 Indeed, if the diagnosis of LS is made in childhood, does it change management in the long-term? Pathological analysis of the excised foreskin is routinely done if there is suspicion of LS. Our aim is to assess the concordance between the clinical and pathological diagnosis of suspected LS and to assess the need for sending the foreskin for pathological examination.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 64 of 420 boys who underwent circumcision in a tertiary children’s hospital from June 2005 to June 2014, and who had their foreskin sent for pathology due to the clinical suspicion of LS. Demographics, presenting symptoms, presumed clinical diagnosis, pathological findings, and followup data were collected and analyzed.

Results: Over the review period, 64 patients underwent circumcision for presumed LS. The mean age of the children was 9.7 years (range 3‒16.5). All the children who had circumcision for presumed LS diagnosis were symptomatic. LS was confirmed in 47 of 64 foreskins (73.5%). Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO) was clinically suspected in 40 (85%) of the 47 patients. The mean followup was 10 months (range 1–15), with seven recurrences (15%) during that period. The recurrences required revision surgery in two patients and five were managed with steroids only.

Conclusions: In our series, the clinical diagnosis correlated with the pathological diagnosis in most cases. A clinical suspicion of LS without routine foreskin pathological assessment will reduces the overall cost to the healthcare system. Appropriate counselling of the patient/parents and their primary caregiver is imperative, as recurrence is common.

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