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Surgeons rise to challenge of reattaching patient’s penis 24 hours after he cut it off

Surgeons rise to challenge of reattaching patient’s penis 24 hours after he cut it off
UK surgeons have achieved the seemingly impossible, after they successfully reattached a man’s penis nearly a day after it was cut off. Just six weeks later, the man’s urethra was working again and sensation had returned.

Surgeons from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust believe it’s the longest documented time after which a severed penis was successfully reattached.

“The success of this case therefore should encourage surgeons to attempt penile replantation, even with prolonged ischaemia [loss of blood supply] time, due to possible success and the potential physical and psychosocial effects of organ loss for the patient,” they said.

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Only around a hundred penile reattachment surgeries have been recorded in the medical literature because of the time-sensitive, painstaking and intricate microsurgery required to yield a positive result.

Given the complex and sensitive nature of the surgery, in combination with the need for a multidisciplinary team that includes urologists and plastic surgeons, treatment can often be delayed. Few doctors and surgical teams would have the resources and know-how to even attempt such a ballsy reattachment. 

In this most recent case, the 34-year-old patient, who has a history of paranoid schizophrenia, tried to take his own life during a psychotic break that involved extreme self-harm. He was discovered 15 hours later, resuscitated, and taken straight to the operating table. 

Grafts taken from one of the man’s arm veins were used to reattach the major blood vessels running along the top of his penis. Unfortunately, one of the major severed nerves had retreated too far back into his body to be reconnected. Despite this, he was reportedly able to achieve a full erection just weeks after the surgery.

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The vast majority of genital self-mutilations are penile amputations, and the Birmingham surgical team behind this miraculous surgery highlighted the need for ongoing, multidisciplinary care for at-risk patients living with severe mental health conditions. Thankfully, in this case, the patient was taken to a facility with urology, plastic surgery, endocrinology, and psychiatry experts on staff to manage his ongoing care.

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