Men's Health: Surgeon brings bent penis treatments to Canada

Doctor says the condition is 'psychologically devastating' and deserves wider recognition

A prominent surgeon at the University of California at San Francisco is returning home to Canada, and he’s bringing with him his state-of-the-art techniques for treating Peyronie’s disease – a condition in which the penis develops an abnormal curvature that can make intercourse difficult or impossible.

The curvature is caused by scar tissue formation inside the penis, but researchers aren’t sure what causes this buildup in the first place. Nor are they sure how many men suffer from the condition, with estimates ranging from less than one per cent to nearly 10 per cent.

“It’s psychologically devastating, stressful on interpersonal relationships and there’s a lot of pain associated with it,” says Dr. Anthony Bella, the returning surgeon. The Kitchener, Ont., native has been appointed to the University of Ottawa’s department of surgery as a urologic surgeon and to the division of urology as director of basic research. “There aren’t many people (in Canada) who have really good training in the ultimate treatment of the disease, which is probably surgery.”

One of Bella’s techniques, which he learned in San Francisco, is called the 16-dot penile plication, in which the penis is straightened using permanent sutures. “It’s a minimally invasive approach which preserves potency because you’re not damaging the nerves or blood vessels.”

Currently, he says, the procedure is rarely performed in Canada. In October 2007, when the surgeon arrives in Ottawa, that will no longer be the case. Bella says he hopes adding another surgeon to this field will help raise awareness of the disease among doctors and patients alike. Peyronie’s disease is not well known and can be difficult to diagnose since it’s usually not noticeable when the penis is flaccid.

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