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Priapism: etiology, pathophysiology and management

Author(s): Van Der Horst C. | Stuebinger Henrik | Seif Christoph | Melchior Diethild | Martínez-Portillo F.J. | Juenemann K.P.

Journal: International Brazilian Journal of Urology
ISSN 1677-5538

Volume: 29;
Issue: 5;
Start page: 391;
Date: 2003;
Original page

Keywords: priapism | classification | pathophysiology | etiology | treatment | pharmacologic therapy | surgery

The understanding of erectile physiology has improved the prompt diagnosis and treatment of priapism. Priapism is defined as prolonged and persistent erection of the penis without sexual stimulation and failure to subside despite orgasm. Numerous etiologies of this condition are considered. Among others a disturbed detumescence mechanism, which may due to excess release of contractile neurotransmitters, obstruction of draining venules, malfunction of the intrinsic detumescence mechanism or prolonged relaxation of intracavernosal smooth muscle are postulated. Treatment of priapism varies from a conservative medical to a drastic surgical approach. Two main types of priapism; veno-occlusive low flow (ischemic) and arterial high flow (non-ischemic), must be distinguished to choose the correct treatment option for each type. Patient history, physical examination, penile hemodynamics and corporeal metabolic blood quality provides distinction between a static or dynamic pathology. Priapism can be treated effectively with intracavernous vasoconstrictive agents or surgical shunting. Alternative options, such as intracavernous injection of methylene blue (MB) or selective penile arterial embolization (SPEA), for the management of high and low flow priapism are described and a survey on current treatment modalities is given.
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