A toddler born with two penises had the larger one successfully removed in a rare surgery when he was 2, according to a case report published March 3 in the Journal of Pediatric Urology.
The boy was born with diphallia, a rare birth defect that affects one out of every 5 to 6 million babies. Diphallia occurs in three forms: two glands form only at the end of the penis, two penises semi-form, or two penises fully form, like in the case of the 2-year-old boy, according to the Federal University of São Paulo doctors who wrote the case study.
To treat the boy, the doctors first identified two fully-formed penises using imaging tests. They found each had a separate urethra, the tube that runs from the bladder to the tip of the penis to release urine.
According to the doctors, imaging tests revealed that the boy’s left penis was larger than the right one, and that he only had one bladder and one prostate, to which both penises were connected.
Another test, which involved surgically opening the left penis through the hole in its tip, revealed that the left penis didn’t have a fully-formed urethra. If a urethra isn’t fully formed and is untreated, it can lead to bladder infections, bladder tumors, and urine entering the kidneys which can lead to infection.
After the doctors ran more tests to confirm the boy’s right penis was properly functioning, they decided to remove the left penis.
For the surgery, the doctors created an incision in the boy’s left penis and then removed the skin from it. They then surgically removed the penis’ inner structure at its base.
In the case report, they said other doctors who perform this rare surgery should focus on balancing function and appearance, so treatment could look different for other patients.