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Penile Torsion

What Is Penile Torsion?

Penile torsion is when the penis is twisted. Mild penile torsion is common and doesn’t cause any problems.

Sometimes, penile torsion happens along with other conditions, like hypospadias. This is when the urethra — the tube that drains pee (urine) from the bladder to outside the body — opens in a different place instead of at the tip of the penis. With hypospadias, the opening may be on the underside or at the base of the penis.

How Does Penile Torsion Happen?

Penile torsion develops before a baby is born, while the skin and tissues of the penis are forming.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Penile Torsion?

Often, penile torsion doesn’t cause any symptoms. Sometimes the baby’s stream of pee may go in a different direction than expected.

How Is Penile Torsion Diagnosed?

Because penile torsion usually doesn’t cause any problems, it’s often found by doctors during a routine checkup. Sometimes it’s found when a baby is born, but in other cases isn’t noticed until the baby is about to be circumcised. Babies with penile torsion should not be circumcised without first being seen by a pediatric urologist.

How Is Penile Torsion Treated?

Penile torsion often doesn’t need any treatment. It doesn’t hurt the baby. 

Parents may choose to have the penile torsion repaired with surgery when their baby is over 6 months old. The child will get anesthesia (be asleep and not feel any pain) during the procedure. The surgeon straightens the penis, though in some cases there might still be some mild twisting that's not noticeable.

While a child heals from surgery, a little antibiotic ointment is applied to the penis to keep it from sticking to diapers, pull-ups, or underwear and lower the risk of a skin infection.

What Else Should I Know?

Penile torsion won’t affect a child’s fertility (the ability to have a baby) later in life. Penile torsion that is mild doesn’t greatly affect appearance or a child's urine stream. If you or your child is concerned with the how the penis looks, see a pediatric urologist.

Reviewed by: Michele L. Young, PA
Date Reviewed: Apr 1, 2024

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