Conservative management of priapism in acute spinal cord injury

S. Alexis Gordon, Key H. Stage, Keith E. Tansey, Yair Lotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives. To perform a retrospective chart review of priapism as a complication of spinal cord injury and review the management and follow-up. Priapism is a known complication of acute spinal cord injury, but little has been written concerning the management of this condition. Methods. A retrospective chart review (1992 through 2002) was performed for all patients with a diagnosis of priapism. Of these patients, 6 had priapism in the setting of acute spinal cord injury without pelvic trauma. We reviewed the management of the priapism in these cases, and follow-up was attempted in each case. Results. Of the 6 patients with spinal cord injury-related priapism, 4 had spinal cord injury located at C5-C7, 1 at C5-C6, and 1 at T12. The prolonged erections were managed conservatively in 4 patients and irrigated with intracorporeal phenylephrine in 2. All patients with corporal blood gas measurement (n = 4) had nonischemic priapism. All 4 patients who underwent no intervention had the priapism resolve within 5 hours. Four patients (two treated conservatively and two who underwent irrigation) had recurrent episodes during the same admission that resolved spontaneously. Long-term outcomes were obtained by telephone from all 6 patients. Of the 6 patients, 5 had maintained spontaneous erections to date (range 3 to 10 years). Conclusions. The results of our study have shown that priapism related to acute spinal cord injury is nonischemic and may be managed conservatively because of the high likelihood of resolution. Corporal blood gas measurement is important because the results can guide further management decisions. Our results suggests that conservative management of priapism related to spinal cord injury has a low rate of causing long-term erectile dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1197
Number of pages3
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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