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Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

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Curvature of the penis

Curvature of the penis is an abnormal bend in the penis that occurs during erection. It is also called Peyronie's disease.

  • Alternative Names

    Peyronie's disease

  • Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    In Peyronie's disease, fibrous scar tissue develops under the skin of the penis. The cause of this fibrous tissue is not known.

    The condition occurs in about 388 of 100,000 men. Peyronie's disease is relatively uncommon and affects men ages 40 - 60 and older.

    Curvature of the penis has been associated with Dupuytren's contracture. This is a cord-like thickening across the palm of one or both hands. It is a fairly common disorder in white men over age 50. However, only a very small number of people with Dupuytren's contracture develop curvature of the penis.

    Other risk factors have not been found. However, people with this condition have a certain type of immune cell marker, which indicates the condition may be inherited.

    Newborns may have a curvature of the penis, which may be part of an abnormality called hypospadias (this is different from Peyronie's disease).

  • Symptoms
    • Bend in the penis with erection
    • Narrowing of the penis with erection
    • Painful erection
    • Problems with penetration or pain during intercourse
  • Signs and tests

    The health care provider can diagnose curvature of the penis with a physical examination. The hard plaques can be felt with or without an erection.

    The doctor may use injected medications to cause an erection. Or you may provide your health care provider with pictures of the erect penis for evaluation.

    An ultrasound may show the scar tissue in the penis, but it is not necessary.

  • Treatment

    Treatments may include:

    • Corticosteroid injections into the fibrous band of tissue
    • Potaba (a medicine taken by mouth)
    • Radiation therapy
    • Shock wave lithotripsy
    • Verapamil (a medicine used to treat high blood pressure)
    • Vitamin E

    If medicine and lithotripsy do not help, and you are unable to have intercourse because of the curve of the penis, surgery may be done to correct the problem. However, surgery carries a risk of impotence. It should only be done if intercourse is impossible.

  • Expectations (prognosis)

    The condition usually gets worse and leads to the inability to have intercourse. Impotence can also occur.

  • Complications

    The condition may make intercourse difficult, painful, or impossible. Surgical correction may also lead to impotence.

  • Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You have symptoms of curvature of the penis
    • Erections are painful
  • References

    Jordan GH. Peyronie's disease. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 25.

    Jordan GH, Schlossberg SM. Surgery of the Penis and Urethra. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 33.

    Elder JS. Abnormalities of the Genitalia in Boys and Their Surgical Management. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 126.

    Elder JS. Anomalies of teh Penis and Urethra. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 544.

Review Date: 9/7/2008

Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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