Variations in Penile Anatomy and Their Contribution to Medical Mischief

  • Ken McGrath


It is clear that the human penis is as individual as a fingerprint, so that no two are alike. Some of the variations have been used as justifications for circumcision, but are they common or genuinely pathological? And can the modern standardized methods (“one size fits all”) provide a predictable result in the face of such variation or any therapeutic value? Three of these variations will be reviewed for their nature and significance.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Cowper W. Myotomia Reformata: Or, A New Administration of all the Muscles of Human Bodies. London: Sam. Smith and Benj. Alford, 1694. pp. 228–9.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Montagu A. Edward Tyson MD and the rise of human and comparative anatomy in England. Mem Am Philos Soc 1943;20:206.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Littre A. Description de l'urDennistonthre de l'homme. Histoire de l'Acadèmie royale des sciences avec les Mémoires de mathematique et de physique. Paris: n.p. (1700), 1719. pp. 311–6.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Keith A, Shillitoe A. The preputial or odoriferous glands of man. Lancet 1904;1:146–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hyman AB, Brownstein MH. Tyson's “glands”: ectopic sebaceous glands and papillomatosis penis. Arch Dermatol 1969;99:31–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Parkash S, Jeyakumar S, Subramanyan K, Chaudhuri S. Human subpreputial collection: its nature and formation. J Urol 1973;110:211–2.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    McGrath KA. The frenular delta: a new preputial structure. In: Denniston GC, Hodges FM, Milos MF (Eds). Understanding Circumcision: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to a MultiDimensional Problem. New York: Kluwer/Plenum, 2001. pp. 199–206.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Tyson E. Orang-outang, sive, Homo Sylvestris: or The Anatomy of the Pygmie compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape and a Man: with an Essay Concerning the Pygmies, the Cynocephali, the Satyrs and Sphinges of the Ancients. London: Thomas Bennet and Daniel Brown, 1699 (a review of this book and its 2nd edition may be viewed at:
  9. 9.
    Cold CJ, McGrath KA. Anatomy and histology of the penile and clitoral prepuce in primates: evolutionary perspective of specialised sensory tissue of the external genitalia. In: Denniston GC, Hodges FM, Milos MF (Eds). Male and Female Circumcision: Medical, Legal, and Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Practice. New York: Kluwer/Plenum, 1999. pp. 19–29.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fordyce JA. A peculiar affection of the mucous membrane of the lips and oral cavity. J Cutan Dis 1896;14:413–9.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Monteil RA. Les grains de Fordyce: maladie, heterotopie ou adenome? Etude histologique et ultrastructurale. J Biol Buccale 1981;9:109–28.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Dreher A, Grevers G. Fordyce-Flecken. Ein wenig beachteter befund im bereich des lippen-rotes und der mundschleimhaut. Laryngo-Rhino-Otologie 1995;74:390–2.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Goeckerman WH. Fordyce's condition of the penis. Arch Derm Syph 1926;14:50.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Piccinno R, Carrel CF, Menni S, et al. Preputial ectopic sebaceous glands mimicking mol-luscum contagiosum. Arch Dermatol Venerol 1990;70:344.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Saalfeld E. Ueber die Tyson'schen drüsen. Arch Mikr Anat 1898;53:212–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Massmanian A, Valls GS, Sempere FJV. Fordyce spots on the glans penis. Br J Dermatol 1995;133:498–500.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Carson HJ, Massa M, Reddy V. Sebaceous gland hyperplasia of the penis. J Urol 1996;156: 1441.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Prakash S, Rao R, Venkatesan K, Ramakrishnan S. Sub-preputial wetness: it [sic.] nature. Ann Natl Med Sci (India) 1982;18:109–12.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Van Howe RS, Hodges FM. The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venerol 2006;20:1046–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Littre A, Morgagni GB. French Academy of Sciences report. Padua: Adversaria Anatomica, 1700. p. 307.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Johnson BL, Baxter DL. Pearly penile papules. Arch Dermatol 1964;90:166–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Glicksman JM, Freeman RG. Pearly penile papules: a statistical study of incidence. Arch Dermatol 1966;93:56–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Buschke A, Gumpert H. Die papillen an der corona glandis in vergleichendanatomischer und ethnologischer beziehung. Arch f Frauenk 1925;11:43–55.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Buschke A. Über die bedentung der “papillen” der corona glandis. Klin Med 1909;5: 1621–3.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Sonnex C, Dockerty WG. Pearly penile papules: a common cause of concern. Int J STD AIDS 1999;10:726–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Agrawal SK, Bhattacharya SN, Singh N. Pearly penile papules: a review. Int J Dermatol 2004;43:199–201.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hogewoning CJA, Bleeker MCG, van den Brule AJC, Voorhorst FJ, van Andel RE, Risse EK, Starink TM, Meijer CJLM. Pearly penile papules: still no reason for uneasiness. J Am Acad Dermatol 2003;49:50–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Rufli T, Eichenberger P, Heer K. Papillomatosis coronae glandis. Haufigkeit und klinisches bild. Schweiz Med Wochenschr 1978;108:229–31.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Dickinson RL. Human Sex Anatomy: A Topographical Hand Atlas. 2nd edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1949.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hodges FM. The history of phimosis from antiquity to the present. In: Denniston GC, Hodges FM, Milos MF (Eds). Male and Female Circumcision: Medical, Legal, and Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Practice. New York: Kluwer/Plenum, 1999. pp. 37–62.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Darby R. A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin & the Rise of Circumcision in Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Bland-Sutton J. Circumcision as a rite and as a surgical operation. Br Med J 1907;1:1408–12. Cited inter alii in Ref 31, p. 228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ken McGrath
    • 1
  1. 1.Senior Lecturer in Pathology in the Faculty of HealthAuckland University of TechnologyNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations