A hidden penis can interfere with normal hygiene, prevent effective voiding, restrict sexual activity, and cause great embarrassment to the patient. The terms “hidden,” “buried,” and “trapped” penis are used interchangeably. To date, there is no classification system that adequately characterizes the spectrum of this condition. In this study, we propose a simplified nomenclature and classification system for adult-acquired hidden penis.
We performed a retrospective review of all adult patients treated surgically for hidden penis by the senior author from 2009 to 2019. Patients were classified into either “buried” or “trapped” categories. A “buried” penis was defined as a hidden penis concealed by suprapubic fat without fibrous tethering. These patients were managed with panniculectomy, monsplasty, or both. In contrast, those with a “trapped” penis presented with scarred or fibrous tissue, which required surgical lysis, phalloplasty, and penile skin resurfacing.
Thirteen patients met the inclusion criteria. The cohort was aged 53 ± 15.7 years with a mean body mass index of 37.4 ± 4.3 kg/m2. Two patients required repeat operations, yielding a total of 15 operative encounters. Six were defined as buried, and 9 as trapped. Inability to achieve erection was the most common preoperative complaint in those with buried penis (67%), whereas difficulties in voiding were most common with trapped penis (78%). Patients with trapped penises had a significantly larger body habitus than those with a buried penis (39.8 vs 34.2 kg/m2, P = 0.0088). Operative duration and length of hospital stay were comparable between the trapped and buried penis groups (206 vs 161 minutes, P = 0.3664) (5 vs 1 day, P = 0.0836). One third experienced wound complications, but this was not significantly different between buried and trapped penises (17% vs 44%, P = 0.5804). Postoperatively, 5 patients experienced spontaneous erections, and 7 were able to void while standing.
Patients with a trapped penis present with a different preoperative symptom profile and body type than those with a buried penis. Our nomenclature and classification system offer a simple and clear algorithm for the management of hidden penis. Large cohort studies are warranted to assess differences in clinical outcomes between trapped and buried penises.