Risk association of congenital anomalies in patients with ambiguous genitalia: A 22-year single-center experience

The Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis DSD Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Ambiguous genitalia refers to a form of differences of sex development (DSD) wherein the appearance of the external genitalia is atypical. This rare condition presents challenges in decision-making and clinical management. Review of historical data may reveal areas for clinical research to improve care for patients with ambiguous genitalia. Objective: This chart review was performed to identify patients with ambiguous genitalia, and to classify them as having 46,XX DSD, 46,XY DSD, or sex chromosome DSD. Within these categories, we looked at establishment of specific diagnoses, type and frequency of other congenital anomalies and neoplasms, and gender assignment, as well as incidence of gender reassignment and transition. Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of patients diagnosed with DSD conditions from 1995 to 2016 using ICD9 codes. For the purpose of this study, review was limited to individuals assessed to have neonatal “ambiguous genitalia” or “indeterminate sex.” Results: Review identified 128 patients evaluated for ambiguous genitalia from 22 years of experience (Figure). Approximately half of these (53%) had 46,XY karyotype, 35% had 46,XX, and the remaining 12% had sex chromosome aberrations. Diagnostic rate for 46,XX DSD was higher at 64%, all of which were congenital adrenal hyperplasia, while diagnostic rate for 46,XY DSD was 11.7% for a molecularly confirmed diagnosis and 24% if clinical diagnoses were included. The most common anomalies included cardiac anomalies in 28/128 (22%), skeletal anomalies in 19/128 (15%), and failure to thrive or growth problems in 19/128 (15%). Additional congenital anomalies were found in 53 out of 128 patients (41%). There were three reported neoplasms in this group: gonadoblastoma, hepatoblastoma, and myelodysplastic syndrome with monosomy 7. Gender assignment was consistent with chromosomes in approximately 90% of XX and XY patients. There were three recorded gender reassignments or transitions. Discussion: Diagnostic rate for ambiguous genitalia is low, especially in 46,XY DSD. Most neonates were assigned gender consistent with their chromosomes. Given the high rate of associated anomalies, screening for cardiac or other anomalies in patients with ambiguous genitalia may be beneficial. Conclusion: Patients with ambiguous genitalia often have additional congenital anomalies. Establishment of a specific diagnosis is uncommon in 46,XY patients. A few patients have gender reassignment outside of the newborn period. Ongoing collection of clinical data on this population may reveal new information regarding long-term health, quality of life, and establishment of more diagnoses with improved molecular techniques.[Figure presented]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153.e1-153.e7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Urology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Ambiguous genitalia
  • Differences of sex development
  • Gender


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