What surgery did I have as a toddler?
October 4, 2012 8:35 PM   Subscribe

As a toddler I had some surgery. I was always told that it was for a hernia, but I'm not so sure, and I'm not sure what the first steps to looking it up are. YANMD medical advice on the issue would be appreciated, as well.

I would have been 3, and I vaguely remember being taken around on a gurney - although that's probably a fake memory just based on what I was told. My parents told me it was hernia surgery, and I had no reason to doubt it until a girlfriend asked about the mild scar on my wiener. There's a straight scar/seam on the center of the underneath, going from front to back - starting from the line of circumcision and extending an inch or so onto the berries area, where it fades out. It's very minor - it looks almost like a parting line - but distinct. At that time, I semi-casually asked one of my parents to confirm that this was, indeed, hernia surgery, and they said yes.

My amateur googling has indicated that there's a common issue where babies have the urethra coming out in the wrong place (hypospadias), and it's surgically moved - based on what I know right now, that would be my guess, but it's just a guess, and I can't find anything looks right by perusing google images.

If anyone has medical thoughts on this I'd love to hear them but I'm mostly wondering if I'm entitled to my records on this, and if so, how I'd access them. I know the state and town and I have a guess on the hospital but I'm not positive.

(Regardless of what I find out I'm not particularly peeved at my parents - if it turns out they lied, it's most likely just a case of a white lie that became hard to turn back on - but curiosity has gotten the best of me. Not at all freaked out, insecure, worried, or upset, just curious.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
It's possible that this is a natural feature and not a scar at all. Most men have some sort of visible "seam" there; on some guys it's barely noticeable, on others it's really easy to see.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:41 PM on October 4, 2012 [10 favorites]

Not that you don't know your own penis, but I'm not sure how many penises you've seen... a lot of guys I've seen have that same "scar" it's just the place where the two halves of what would have been your labia if you were a girl join together. It's more and less pronounced on different people.

And yes, you should absolutely be able to get your records.
posted by jessamyn at 8:43 PM on October 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

As a data point, my nephew had surgery for hypospadias when he was a toddler and my sister confided in me but told absolutely everyone else that it was a hernia operation. So what you surmise could certainly be the truth.
posted by kate blank at 8:59 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Medical records may no longer exist (it is common to destroy records after seven years) but if you know info like roughly when, you should be able to write and request your own records (assuming you are a legal adult). Some thoughts:

Be as specific as possible. There may be a charge for records, which can get pricey if you ask for "all my medical records from x year". It would be better to ask for "a copy of the operative report from x year".

Go online and look for info on "how to request medical records from (name of hospital)". Many hospitals have this info on their website. You probably need to contact either the medical records department or the release of information office. It gets called different things at different places. Whatever possibly dumb sounding thing they ask you to do, follow the instructions as close as humanly possible. It is probably an attempt to comply with HIPAA. If you don't understand something, call them and ask questions.

If there is a charge for records, they will probably want their money before giving you anything. You also should be prepared to provide a copy of a photo ID or other evidence that you are the patient in question. Find all this out up front. Plan to put together a written request, sign it and include any other documents in a single organized packet.

Expect it to take a few weeks to get back to you. Under the law, they typically have thirty days to respond. That initial response may well be a letter saying "We got your request. Please send...X thing." (If they ask for an authorization, call and clarify that you are the patient in question. It shouldn't require an authorization .)
posted by Michele in California at 9:05 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hypospadias surgery is usually done between 6 and 18 months, most often before 1 year. Three would be a bit late. (Also, it's fairly common for circumcision to be put off until the hypospadias surgery, partly because the foreskin can be used to help with the repair if necessary, if that helps you with baby picture sleuthing.)

Also hypospadias is so ridiculously common that its a little weird to lie about (although, per kate blank, people certainly do). People talk about it pretty openly.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:48 PM on October 4, 2012

Also, if the hypospadias surgery was when you were three, you most likely would not have been potty trained standing up before then ... which is one reason its preferred while in diapers still. You probably would have been potty trained exclusively sitting down until after the surgery.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:50 PM on October 4, 2012

There many different types of hernias. The surgical incision site will be different for each hernia. Is it possible to ask your parents which type of hernia you had?

My son had a inguinal (groin) hernia repaired when he was about 6 years old. The surgeon placed the incision in the pubic crease. The scar blended in so well, unless you knew it was there, you would not notice it.
posted by JujuB at 10:04 PM on October 4, 2012

My 7 month old has that same "seam" you mention. A few weeks ago at bath time my husban was all "whoa, what's that??" (baby had hernia surgery 3 months ago, by the way). I told him it was normal and that he had it too, and he was mildly suprised but shrugged it off as one of those things you don't know about yourself because you can't look there.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:08 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

In case that came out wrong, the "seam" is unrelated to the hernia surgery. Baby does have two scars in his scrotum, from where they "fixed" his testicles in place. Maybe look for those?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:10 PM on October 4, 2012

That seems like a big scar from hernia surgery. I had hernia surgery as a baby and you wouldnt know I did till you felt me down there. I would think its another surgery and your parents said hernia operation because its easier to explain.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:42 AM on October 5, 2012

I had an inguinal hernia repaired when I was 3, my scar is almost impossible to find. The location is similar to what JujuB describes for her son. Ask your parents, they may be more willing to tell the truth now that you're an adult.
posted by tommasz at 5:27 AM on October 5, 2012

I have this "scar" too, very noticeable and darker than the rest of me. Asked my doc and she confirmed it's quite normal.
posted by jara1953 at 7:27 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm mildly humbled/embarrassed about a) not knowing about this, and b) being paranoid in this case, but, now I know. After a bit of quick GIS'ing, it's definitely the "raphe" that nebulawindphone and others mentioned. I'd even apologize to Mom about second guessing her, except that would mean initiating a conversation with Mom about my willy. In any case, thanks all!
posted by ftm at 5:45 PM on October 5, 2012

FWIW, mr. crankylex was born with hypospadias and he had the surgery as an infant and I can tell you from years of observation that the scars from that surgery look nothing like either a hernia scar or what you've discovered is a normal marking.
posted by crankylex at 8:57 PM on October 5, 2012

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