Does circumcision alter the periurethral bacterial flora?

S.S. Wijesinha, B.L. Atkins, N.E. Dudley, P.K. Tam

Pediatr Surg Int 1998: 13 (2,3);146

A prospective study of 25 boys who underwent circumcision for medical reason was performed. Specimens of periurethral bacterial flora were taken before operation as well as 3 weeks after surgery, so that each boy acted as his own control. Before circumcision, 13 (52%) harboured uropathogenic organisms (Escherichia coli and other coliforms, Enterococcus spp, Proteus spp, Pseudomonas spp, and Klebsiella spp); after circumcision, none of the boys had uropathogens, the only organisms cultured from the periurethral region being skin commensals. We postulate that circumcision converts a 'cul-de-sac' that is a reservoir of organisms capable of causing ascending urinary tract infection into a surface colonised by natural skin organisms. This study provides circumstantial evidence supporting the idea that circumcision in well-selected patients may confer protection from urine infection.