Plastibell circumcision with frenulum-sparing technique
Ismael Zamilpa MD and Madison Haraway
Introduction: The penile frenulum connects the prepuce to the glans on the underside of the penis. Although the frenulum plays a role in sexual arousal, it can cause painful erections when its length is too short. Conventional neonatal circumcision techniques involve removing the entire foreskin covering the glans, often with division of the frenulum (1). Recently, tissue-sparing approaches have become a matter of interest to reduce the risk of complications, such as bleeding, altered glans sensitivity, and meatal stenosis.
Methods: We describe a frenulum-sparing technique in combination with the Plastibell method. Lysis of preputial adhesions near the frenulum is performed carefully. Selection of an appropriately sized bell is paramount as oversize or undersize can cause bell migration and tissue necrosis (2). The bell should fit snugly over two-thirds of the glans of the penis and fall off spontaneously within 3-7 days.
Results: The patient is a 2-month-old male who presented to Arkansas Children’s Urology with phimosis, which is preputial tightness that prevents foreskin retraction over the glans. He was born at 37 weeks gestation and was not circumcised at birth due to concern for heart murmur. After obtaining cardiac clearance and parental consent, Plastibell circumcision was performed with good preservation of the frenulum, and the patient tolerated the procedure well.
Discussion/conclusions: There is current controversy over the ideal extent of preputial preservation during circumcision. Several publications have highlighted the frenulum’s function in penile erection, owing to its innervation by fine-touch sensory receptors, such as Meissner’s corpuscles (1).
By leaving the frenulum intact, we aim to reduce the risk of complications, particularly meatal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the urethra in circumcised children (3). These children commonly present with symptoms of high-velocity stream (usually upwards), dysuria, and urinary frequency after toilet training.
In conclusion, this tissue-sparing approach potentially reduces complications, improves cosmesis, and retains sensitivity.
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