A man discovered his penis was turning into bone after going into hospital for knee pain.
The unnamed 63-year-old showed up at an emergency room in New York after falling on the sidewalk onto his buttocks. Shortly following the fall, he developed a pain in his knee, for which he sought medical treatment, his doctors report in the journal Urology Case Reports. During an examination, he reported that he was also having pain in his penis. There were no signs of swollen prostate or discharge.
He was given an X-ray of his pelvis to rule out any potential fractures from the fall. When his medical team looked at the X-ray, they discovered his penis had been turning to bone for some time.
The doctors describe it as "An extensive, plaque-like calcification along the expected distribution of the penis was evident," in the case report. "The diagnosis of penile ossification along the entire penile shaft was suspected," they concluded.
Penis ossification is extremely rare, and fewer than 40 cases of penis ossification have been published, according to the report. It occurs when calcium salts "build up in soft tissue [of the penis], forming extraskeletal bone". In a similar case in 2017 doctors found "what appeared to be calcified tissue along 80% of the shaft" of a 43-year-old man's penis, reporting the case in Reviews in Urology (graphic image warning).
The most common cause is Peyronie's disease (PD), an "acquired penile deformity, consisting of curvature during erection, with associated findings including loss of flaccid stretched penile length."
In acute PD, there is a progression of deformity of the penis and pain in erect and/or flaccid states, as seen in this patient. Peyronie's disease is thought to affect between 0.5 and 13 percent of men in the United States, though many people are unaware they have the condition, according to the Urology Department of Weill Cornell Medicine.
Unfortunately, in this case, the team were unable to determine a cause for the man's problem. The patient was informed of his condition but decided to leave against medical advice.