Surgical reconstruction of the penis is challenging because of the many cosmetic and functional (e.g., sexual intercourse and voiding) requirements that must be addressed. Since the free sensate osteocutaneous fibula flap was first described for total penile reconstruction in 1993 it has been widely accepted, with its advantages and minimal shortcomings. In this article, the authors present the longest follow-up of biologically male patients with free fibular phalloplasties. Since 1994, 18 biologically male patients with total penile losses for various reasons were treated with free sensate osteocutaneous fibula flaps. All patients were included in the study. The ages of the patients ranged between 20 and 26 years (mean, 22.2 years). The average follow-up period was 5.4 years (range, 1 to 9 years). Patient satisfaction was evaluated by a questionnaire regarding both quality of orgasm and daily activities. Conventional radiographic imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, and bone mineral densitometry were performed to evaluate the fate of the bony component of the flap. Also, sensibility was evaluated by bulbocavernous reflex and penile somatosensory evoked potentials testing in nine patients. Six patients married, and five of them had six children. Most patients and their partners reported pleasurable sexual intercourse and orgasm. Conventional radiographs of the fibular bone in neophalluses showed robust, calcified bone structure without any evidence of bone resorption or fracture. The magnetic resonance images showed the cortical substance and spongiosum of the bone marrow, which are characteristic signs of bone viability. After intravenous injection of gadolinium, the neophallus bone showed uptake of contrast medium. Viability of neophallus bone was shown even at 9-year follow-up (the longest follow-up in the literature). Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry measurements of the penile bone grafts showed that fibular components in the penis had bone mineral density values that were close to but lower than those of intact fibula in the same subjects. These results were considered as evidence of viability of bone grafts. Neural integrity was found between the nerves of the neophallus and the residual penile bodies by both bulbocavernous reflex and penile somatosensory evoked potentials tests. In conclusion, free sensate fibula flap phalloplasty provides the cosmetic and functional requirements that an ideal penis should have. All results put an end to the discussion that the fibular component of the neophallus could resorb. Constitution of neural integrity is important in terms of pleasurable sexual intercourse. The authors believe the free sensate osteocutaneous fibula flap should be considered as the standard in penile reconstruction.
From the Departments of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Neurology, Gülhane Military Medical Academy.
Received for publication July 1, 2003; revised September 29, 2003.
Presented in part at Plastic Surgery Week (Phalloplasty Session), in Davos, Switzerland, March 7, 2003.
Mustafa Şengezer, M.D.
GATA Plastik Rekonstrüktif ve Estetik Cerrahi, AD. Başkani, 06018 Etlik, Ankara, Turkey, firstname.lastname@example.org