Public Health and Primary CareReview Article

Adult Acquired Hidden Penis in Obese Patients: A Critical Survey of the Literature

Chase T. Cavayero, OMS II; Meghan A. Cooper, OMS IV; and Stephen L. Harlin, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 4, 2014

Accepted: November 20, 2014

Published: March 1, 2015

J Osteopath Med; 115(3): 150-156

Context: Hidden penis is anatomically defined by a lack of firm attachments of the skin and dartos fascia to the underlying Buck fascia.

Objectives: To critically appraise the research evidence that could support the most effective surgical techniques for adult-acquired hidden penis in obese patients.

Methods: Studies investigating patients with a diagnosis of hidden penis were identified. Of these studies, only those with adult patients classified as overweight or obese (body mass index >25) were included in the review. Three reviewers examined the abstracts of the studies identified in the initial Medline search, and abstracts considered potentially relevant underwent full-text review. Studies that included patients with congenital, iatrogenic (eg, circumcision issues or aesthetic genital surgery), or traumatic causes of hidden penis were excluded. Studies that did not define the diagnostic criteria for hidden penis were excluded to minimize the risk of definition bias. The quality of evidence for each study was determined after considering the following sources of bias: method of allocation to study groups, data analysis, presence of baseline differences between groups, objectivity of outcome, and completeness of follow-up. Using these criteria, studies were then graded as high, moderate, or low in quality.

Results: Seven studies with a total of 119 patients met the inclusion criteria. All but 1 of the studies were nonrandomized. One study provided a clear presentation of results and appropriate statistical analysis. Six studies accounted for individual-based differences, and 1 study failed to account for baseline differences altogether. Four studies addressed follow-up. One study was of high quality, 2 were of moderate quality, and 4 were of low quality.

Conclusions: Building a clinical practice guideline for the surgical management of hidden penis has proven difficult because of a lack of high-quality, statistically significant data in the research synthesis. The authors elucidate the challenges and epitomize the collective wisdom of surgeons who have investigated this problem and emphasize the need for rigorous evaluative studies.

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