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Peyronie's Disease, also known as Induratio penis plastica or Chronic Inflammation of the Tunica Albuginea (CITA), is a connective tissue disorder involving the growth of fibrous plaques in the soft tissue of the penis affecting possibly 5% of men. Specifically, scar tissue forms in the tunica albuginea, the thick sheath of tissue surrounding the corpora cavernosa causing pain, abnormal curvature, erectile dysfunction, indentation, loss of girth and shortening. A variety of treatments have been used, but none have been especially effective.
A certain degree of curvature of the penis is considered normal, as many men are born with this benign condition, commonly referred to as congenital curvature.
The disease may cause pain, hardened, big, cord-like lesions (scar tissue known as "plaques"), or abnormal curvature of the penis when erect due to chronic inflammation of the tunica albuginea (CITA). Although the popular conception of Peyronie's Disease is that it always involves curvature of the penis, the scar tissue sometimes causes divots or indentations rather than curvature. The condition may also make sexual intercourse painful and/or difficult, though many men report satisfactory intercourse in spite of the disorder. Although it can affect men of any race and age, it is most commonly seen in Caucasian males above the age of 40, especially those of blood type A+, but has been seen in men as young as 18.
The disorder is confined to the penis, although a substantial number of men with Peyronie's exhibit concurrent connective tissue disorders in the hand, and to a lesser degree, in the feet. About 30 percent of men with Peyronie's Disease develop fibrosis in other elastic tissues of the body, such as on the hand or foot, including Dupuytren's contracture of the hand. An increased incidence in genetically related males suggests a genetic component.
A urologist can diagnose the disease and suggest treatment, although it is easily diagnosed by general practitioners or family doctors. An ultrasound can provide conclusive evidence of Peyronie's disease, ruling out congenital curvature or other disorders.
The underlying cause of Peyronie's Disease is not well understood, but is thought to be caused by trauma or injury to the penis usually through sexual activity although many patients often are unaware of any traumatic event or injury.
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (March 2011)|
Without treatment, about 12-13% of patients will spontaneously improve over time, 40-50% will get worse and the rest will be relatively stable.
Vitamin E supplementation has been studied for decades, and some success has been reported in older trials, but those successes have not been reliably repeated in larger, newer studies. A combination of Vitamin E and colchicine has shown some promise in delaying progression of the condition.
Some newer agents targeting the basic mechanisms of inflammation have been studied in larger clinical trials. These include potassium para-aminobenzoate (Potaba), pentoxifylline (acting through TGFβ1 inhibition), and Coenzyme Q10.
The efficacy of Interferon-alpha-2b in the early stages of the disease has been reported in recent publications but it was found to be less effective in cases where calcification of the plaque had occurred in common with many treatments.
Injections to plaques (scar tissue formed by the inflammation) with Verapamil may be effective in some patients, but a recent placebo controlled trial failed to show a significant improvement. Use of iontophoresis with Verapamil and Dexamethasone, applied to the affected areas has been studied.
Collagenase clostridium histolyticum (marketed as Xiaflex by Auxilium), a drug approved by the FDA to treat Dupuytren's contracture, has been reported to break down the excess collagen that causes Peyronie's disease. The drug has not been approved by the manufacturer or the FDA for the treatment of Peyronie's disease, and such treatments are currently considered off-label use, and are discouraged.
Surgery, such as the "Nesbit operation", is considered a last resort and should only be performed by highly skilled urological surgeons knowledgeable in specialized corrective surgical techniques. A penile prosthesis may be appropriate in advanced cases. A European surgery called the Leriche technique, in which an 18 gauge needle is used to lacerate the plaque, has shown effectiveness at reducing curvature and returning sexual function.
Self-administered manual stretching techniques, as well as a number of devices which exert gentle longitudinal forces on the plaque, are currently being studied in clinical trials. However, these penis extenders are controversial and most doctors recommend staying away from them due to their unknown and potentially harmful side-effects.
Doctors are starting to look into less intrusive forms of therapy as an alternative to surgery because many patients were unhappy with the results of the intervention due mostly to the penile shortening that happens after the surgery. Although there is no cure for Peyronie's Disease or fibrotic disorders that are localized in different areas of the body, several clinical studies such as the one mentioned above point to penis extenders as a possible treatment to correct curvature, or at the very least to impede the curvature from getting worse. According to Doctor Gontero, the leading researcher of the above mentioned study which was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2009, "Overall treatment results were subjectively scored as acceptable in spite of curvature improvements, which varied from 'no change' to 'mild improvement.'" The study concluded that penile extender devices provided only minimal improvements in penile curvature but patients were generally satisfied likely from increased penile length. Several other studies exist which exhibit minor to moderate improvements in curvature, length and thickness but no cases of complete reversal of the Peyronies curvature.
Peyronie's Disease can be a physically and psychologically devastating disease. While most men will continue to be able to have sexual relations, they are likely to experience some degree of deformity and erectile dysfunction in the wake of the disease process. It is not uncommon for men afflicted with Peyronie's Disease to exhibit depression or withdrawal from their sexual partners.
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