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Definition

Chordee is a birth defect of the penis. It causes the penis to be curved downward, which is most obvious during an erection.

The Male Reproductive System

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Causes

Chordee occurs when the baby is developing in the womb. It is sometimes due to a shortened urethra or having thick tissue around the urethra. The urethra is the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body so that urine can exit. Other times, the problem may be due to the skin on the bottom side of the penis being too short. The reason is unknown.

Risk Factors

Chordee is more common in children with hypospadiasor a a family history of hypospadias. With this condition, the opening of the urethra is on the bottom of the penis instead of at the tip of the penis.

Symptoms

Chordee causes the penis to be curved. It does not cause pain.

Diagnosis

The condition may be diagnosed during a physical exam. A specialist called a urologist may do a procedure to create an artificial erection. This allows the doctor to examine the penis. Chordee may also be found during surgery to fix another problem that affects the penis.

This condition may not be detected until later in childhood.

Treatment

In mild cases, surgery may not be needed. Your child's condition will be monitored. In other cases, surgery may be done to straighten the penis. The curved appearance will be straightened by:

  • Removing tissue that is curving the erection
  • Making the longer and shorter sides of the penis equal in length
  • Lengthening the urethra if the urethra is short—tissue from the foreskin or another site will be used

Surgery is usually done in children aged 6-18 months.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent this condition.

RESOURCES:

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
http://www.healthychildren.org

Urology Care Foundation
http://www.urologyhealth.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Urological Association
http://www.cua.org

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Guideline Clearinghouse. Guidelines on penile curvature. AHRQ, National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=37628&search=congenital+penile+curvature . Published February 2012. Accessed September 11, 2014.

Hypospadias. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 26, 2015. Accessed May 6, 2015.

Hypospadias/chordee. Cincinnati Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/h/hypospadias. Updated June 2013. Accessed May 6, 2015.

Hypospadias and chordee. Comprehensive Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.urologist.org/ForPatients/EducationalResources/UrologyConditions/DIsplayPediatricConditions/tabid/234/ArticleId/71/Hypospadias-and-Chordee.aspx. Accessed September 11, 2014.

Information for parents about penile chordee. North Texas Pediatric Urology Associates website. Available at: http://www.urologyclinics.com/assets/images/NTPUAChordeePhalloplasty.pdf. Accessed May 6, 2015.

Mingin G, Baskin L. Management of chordee in children and young adults. Urol Clin N Am. 2002;29:277-284.

Montag S, Palmer L. Abnormalities of penile curvature: chordee and penile torsion. ScientificWorldJournal. 2011 Jul 28;11:1470.

Snodgrass W. Management of penile curvature in children. Curr Opin Urol. 2008;18:431-435.



Last reviewed May 2015 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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