Peyronie’s disease is characterized by a plaque, or hard lump, that forms on the erection tissue of the penis. The plaque often begins as an inflammation that may develop into a fibrous tissue.
Peyronie’s disease was first described in 1743 by a French surgeon, François de la Peyronie. It was classified as a form of impotence. However, now impotence is recognized as one factor associated with Peyronie’s disease, but it is not always present.
Some researchers believe Peyronie’s disease develops following a trauma that causes bleeding inside the penis. This trauma may explain acute cases of Peyronie’s disease, but does not explain why most cases develop slowly, or what causes the disease after no apparent traumatic event.
Generally, when the disease heals within a year or so, the plaque does not advance beyond an initial inflammatory phase. However, when the disease lasts for years, the plaque often becomes a tough, fibrous tissue, and calcium deposits may form.
A diagnosis of Peyronie’s disease is usually made when men seek medical attention for painful erections and difficulty with intercourse. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Peyronie’s disease may include the following:
Ultrasound examination of the penis: A diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
Color Doppler examination: A type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the flow of blood through a blood vessel; waveforms of the blood flow are shown on the ultrasound screen (to evaluate erectile function, anatomy and blood flow).
Specific treatment for Peyronie’s disease will be determined by your doctor based on:
Your age, overall health and medical history
Extent of the disease
Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disease
Your opinion or preference
In general, the goal of treatment is to keep the patient with Peyronie’s disease sexually active. Providing education about the disease and its course is often included in the treatment plan. In some cases, treatment is not necessary, as Peyronie’s disease often occurs in a mild form that heals without treatment in 6 to 15 months. Treatment may include:
Prescribing or continuing palliative methods
Vitamin E: Small studies have reported improvements with oral vitamin E prescribed by a doctor; however, larger controlled studies have not been completed to establish the effectiveness of this treatment.
Injections of various chemical agents into the plaques. Injections of various chemical agents into the plaques have been utilized in a small number of patients, and, for this reason, this intervention is considered unproven; unwanted side effects may occur.
Radiation therapy: With this treatment approach, radiation is aimed at the plaque to reduce pain, but does not affect the plaque itself; unwanted side effects or worsening of the disease may occur.