Scientists have developed a splint that provides early traction therapy immediately after Peyronie’s disease surgery.
An early study of the splint has shown it to be “effective and safe,” according to a recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study. The splint may also reduce the risk of penile shortening.
Peyronie’s disease causes a distinct curve to the penis. Experts aren’t exactly sure what triggers it, but some believe it develops from a penile injury that doesn’t heal properly. Instead, areas of hardened scar tissue called plaques form beneath the skin’s surface. Because the plaques make the penis less flexible, the penis starts to bend.
Men with Peyronie’s often have pain and erection difficulties. Some are unable to have intercourse at all due to penile deformity.
Surgery is one way to treat Peyronie’s disease. One example is the plaque incision and grafting technique. With this approach, surgeons make an incision into the plaque(s) and fill the space with a graft material.
Men often have traction therapy after this procedure to help keep the penis straight and limit any shortening. This part of the treatment involves wearing a special device that gently pulls the penis into a straight position.
Early traction therapy, as described in the study, is thought to improve outcomes and reduce the chances of shortening.
Forty-six patients took part in the study. Their median age was 55 years, and their median penile curvature was 70 degrees. All of them underwent plaque incision and grafting procedures. They were also circumcised.
Before surgery, the men completed two questionnaires designed to assess their erectile function and experiences with Peyronie’s disease. Researchers also measured the men’s curvature and penis length (stretched out). Plaques were evaluated through ultrasound.
As surgery was coming to a close, each man was outfitted with a splint made from stylets. At first, the splint was sutured to the penis for 2 to 3 weeks, although later in the study, this time period was shortened to 7 days. Then, the stitches were removed, but the device remained in place for another 3 to 4 weeks. After that, the men used standard penile traction devices at least 3 hours a day for another 4 to 6 months.
At least 6 months after surgery, the questionnaires and other assessments were repeated. At this time, the men’s median residual curvature was 10 degrees. For the most part, median stretched penile length remained the same as before: 13 centimeters. Eight patients had shortening of about 1 centimeter, but none of the men had shortening exceeding 1 centimeter. Many of the men were having sex again within 6 weeks and were highly satisfied with their experience. There were no surgical complications.
While the approach appeared successful, there is still more research to be done.
“Our encouraging results could pave the way for a new line of research regarding this topic, which in turn could lead to an improvement in the postoperative management of the patient undergoing surgery for [Peyronie’s disease],” the authors concluded.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Fernández-Pascual, Esaú, MD, FEBU, et al.
“A Novel Penile Splint as Early Traction Therapy After Grafting Techniques for Peyronie's Disease”
(Full-text. Published: July 1, 2020)