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What is Priapism?

Priapism is a condition where the blood that circulates through the penis becomes trapped in its spongy tissue. It can cause irreversible damage to the penis and prevent the patient from having a normal erection.

If an erection continues for more than 4 hours, seek immediate medical attention. If priapism is not treated immediately, penile tissue becomes damaged.

Priapism is a rare condition.

Symptoms of Priapism

The most common symptoms of priapism are:

  • persistent erection with sexual stimulation
  • painful erection with sexual stimulation

What Causes Priapism?

The most common causes are:

  • sickle cell anemia
  • spinal cord disorder
  • inflammation of the urethra
  • leukemia (children with priapism usually have leukemia.)
  • injury to the blood vessel that controls erection
  • excessive response to alprostadil therapy for impotence

Can Priapism be treated?

Yes. The treatment of priapism depends on the cause. Placing a towel-covered ice pack over the penis usually stops the erection. In some cases, the doctor will need to withdraw blood from the penis.

Complications after treatment

Complications may occur during and after the treatment. Some types of complications are:

  • priapism reoccurring
  • bleeding from the holes placed in the penis as a part of the shunting procedure
  • infections
  • infection of the skin around the penis
  • damage to the urethra and the urine tube

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