a first case reported in humans

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According to a new case report released a few days ago, a baby was born with three penises in Iraq last year. This is a world first. The child has since been successfully operated on.

Diphallia (or diphallia) is a very rare congenital urogenital anomaly that is characterized by a total or partial duplication of the penis. While developing an additional phallus is not inherently dangerous, the diphallia, however, may be associated with other congenital problems that require special attention, including digestive system and urinary tract problems.

Since a first case report reported in 1609 by a man named Wecker, only a hundred cases have been reported in the scientific literature. In reality, there would be a few more. Doctors believe that this rare defect affects about one in five million births.

Three penises

All of these abnormalities, on the other hand, had resulted in only a single duplication of the reproductive tract of the affected children. In other words, all of them had developed two penises.

This new report, published in the journal Case reports from the International Journal of Surgery, is even more striking in that this child has developed not two, but three penises. No such case (triphallia) had to date been reported.

It all started around the age of three months. At the time, parents noticed swelling in their child’s scrotum next to strange protrusions that looked like small buds in the perineum.

At the hospital, an examination then revealed a hydrocele (an accumulation of fluid in a “pocket” surrounding the testicle), as well as two additional penises. The first was two centimeters long, extended from the root of the original penis, and had an acorn. The second measured one centimeter and was placed below the scrotum. Both had cavernous and spongy bodies with no urethra inside.

A preoperative photo showing the original and the two supernumerary penises. Credits: International Journal of Surgery Case Reports

After consulting various health experts, the child finally underwent an operation to drain the hydrocele. The two additional penises were also excised. The surgery was a success and the child had no adverse effects after one year of follow-up.

Note that diphallia (or triphallia) occurs during the embryonic development of the penis between the 3rd and the 6th week of gestation or may arise during the process of ventral migration and fusion of the paired mesodermal anlagen to the 15th week of gestation according to the authors.

Most specialists believe that three main factors can explain these abnormalities (sometimes associated): the use of drugs / endocrine disruptors during pregnancy, infections and homeothic genes.





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