The Role of Virtual 3D Technology in Treating Peyronie’s Disease

The Role of Virtual 3D Technology in Treating Peyronie’s Disease

Men seeking surgical treatment for Peyronie’s disease (PD) may find it difficult to understand the surgical plan or anticipate how their penises will look after the operations. A new approach that uses a smartphone and 3 different computer software programs could provide a more satisfactory way for surgeons and patients to evaluate and understand the state of the disease, discuss surgical options, and even develop realistic 3-dimensional (3D) models of the penis before and after surgical correction that can help patients better understand the procedure and set accurate expectations for the results. 

Peyronie’s disease is a noncancerous condition that can nonetheless significantly impact the sexual relations, mental health, and overall wellbeing of those who suffer from it. It is characterized by curved, painful erections that are caused by the development of scar tissue on the penis. The curved state of the penis can make sexual penetration difficult and may result in erectile dysfunction. The repercussions of PD extend beyond the bedroom, and it is estimated that half of the men with the disease struggle with clinical depression. For men with more severe cases of Peyronie’s disease, surgery may be a desirable option to improve their sex lives and mental health.

To enhance the preoperative experience for both patients and providers, researchers launched a 2019 pilot study of 4 PD surgery candidates at the University Hospital of Palermo in which they tested a new method for measuring and evaluating penile curvature. In this method, a researcher took at least 50 rapid-sequence pictures of each patient’s erect penis from all angles, a process that only took 39 seconds on average. Then, the images were uploaded into 3 online software programs that: 1) generated the initial 3D model, 2) scaled the model and marked curvature and the section of tissue to be removed in the surgery, and 3) created a model of how the penis would look after surgery.

All patients and surgeons involved in the study were very satisfied with the 3D models, giving them a score of at least 4 in every aspect measured (on a scale from 1 = very unsatisfied to 5 = very satisfied). The study participants found the 3D models to be helpful in understanding the problem and the proposed surgical correction, evaluating penile curvature, and providing a meaningful visual tool to reference during pre-surgery discussions. Perhaps most importantly, the third model gave the patients a realistic representation of how the penis would look after the operation, which proved to be very useful in setting their expectations for the results of their surgeries.

Though only a small pilot study of 4 individuals, these results are nevertheless encouraging, and they indicate that 3D technology could play a role in improving the evaluation and treatment of Peyronie’s disease.

Resources

Pavone, C., Abrate, A., Altomare, S., Serretta, V., Simonato, A., & Callieri, M. (2020). Is Kelami’s Method Still Useful in the Smartphone Era? The Virtual 3-Dimensional Reconstruction of Penile Curvature in Patients with Peyronie’s Disease: A Pilot Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 18(1), 209-214. https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(20)30929-2/fulltext

Peyronie’s Disease – Symptoms and Causes. (2020, April 4). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peyronies-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353468