What is penile torsion?

Penile torsion is a fairly common congenital (present from birth) condition that can affect any male infant. It occurs more commonly than previously thought, even perhaps up to about 1 in 80 newborn males. It can range from mild to severe. It is most likely to be seen in an uncircumcised penis. Circumcision should not be performed until the child is seen by a pediatric urologist.

With this condition, the infant’s penis appears rotated, or twisted, on its axis. The penis is almost always rotated to the left (counter-clockwise).

Penile torsion can be a stand-alone medical issue, or associated with other congenital conditions of the penis. These conditions include:

In severe cases with more than a 90 degree rotation, penile torsion should be corrected.

This condition is often noticed in the hospital or doctor’s office during circumcision or an exam. It is important to seek medical advice if you notice your child’s penis appears rotated or twisted.

It is very important to note that if there are concerns for penile torsion, either by the parent or the provider, a circumcision should be postponed until you can talk to a pediatric urologist.

What causes penile torsion?

Penile torsion happens when the skin and connective tissue of the penis does not form right while the child is developing in the womb. There is no one specific thing that is known to cause penile torsion or other congenital penile conditions. However, over-exposure to female hormones has been found to be in association.

What are the symptoms of penile torsion?

Penile torsion usually causes no symptoms, especially if the penis is rotated less than 90 degrees. Most parents will talk to the doctor because of fears that the infant’s penis will cause him embarrassment later in life due to its appearance, or that he will have reproductive issues. There is no evidence that penile torsion affects a male’s reproductive potential.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/22/2019.

References

  • Eroglu E, Gundogdu G. Isolated penile torsion in newborns. Canadian Urological Association Journal. 2015 Nov-Dec; 9(11-12): E805-E807. Accessed 8/23/2019.
  • Bar-Yosef Y, Binyamini J, Matzkin H, Ben-Chaim J. Degloving and realignment—simple repair of isolated penile torsion. Urology 2007 Feb;69(2):369-71.
  • Bauer R, Kogan BA. Modern technique for penile torsion repair. J Urol. 2009 Jul;182(1):286-90
  • Wilcox D, Godbole P, Cooper C. Pediatric Urology Book. Accessed 8/23/2019.
  • Snow BW. Penile torsion correction by diagonal corporal plication sutures. Int Braz J Urol. 2009 Jan-Feb;35(1):56-9
  • Abdelhamid A, Zeid A, Soliman H. Penile torsion: An overlooked anomaly with distal hypospadias. Annals of Pediatric Surgery 2010 Apr; 6(2)93-97. Accessed 8/23/2019.

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