BACKGROUND: For men with significant genitourinary injury, penile transplantation is being considered as an option when reconstruction is not feasible or proves unacceptable to the injured patient. METHODS: A review of the literature was conducted to assess the current state of penile reconstruction and transplantation options, as well as to evaluate scholarly research addressing the ethical dimensions of penile transplantation. RESULTS: The state of penile transplantation is elementary. If reconstruction is not a possibility, proceeding ethically with research on penile vascularized composite allotransplantation will require the articulation of guidelines. To date, very little has been published in the scholarly literature assessing the ethics of penile transplantation. CONCLUSIONS: Guidelines should be developed to address penile transplantation and must cover the donation of tissue, consent, subject selection, qualifications of the surgical team, and management of both failure and patient dissatisfaction. Unless guidelines are established and disseminated, penile transplants should not be undertaken. The preliminary recommendations suggested in this article may help to inform development of guidelines.
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