Outpatient penile aspiration and epinephrine irrigation for young patients with sickle cell anemia and prolonged priapism

Elpis Mantadakis, David H. Ewalt, Joe Don Cavender, Zora R. Rogers, George R. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The optimal management of prolonged priapism for patients with sickle cell anemia (SCA) has not been established. We prospectively studied in an outpatient setting the efficacy and safety of a procedure that employs aspiration of blood from the corpora cavernosa and irrigation with a dilute epinephrine solution under local anesthesia to relieve priapism in young patients with SCA. If hydration and analgesics failed to produCe detumescence or if priapism had lasted >4 hours, the protocol was activated in the emergency room or clinic. Fifteen patients with homozygous SCA (Hb SS) were treated on 39 occasions; 10 patients were treated once, 1 patient twice, 2 patients 3 times, 1 patient 6 times, and 1 patient 15 times. Median age of patients at first treatment was 14.3 years (range, 3.9-18.3 years). The procedure was successful in producing immediate detumescence on 37 of 39 occasions (95% efficacy, 95% confidence intervals (Cl): 81%-99%). No serious immediate or long-term side effects were observed. None of the patients who demonstrated detumescence required hospitalization. The 2 patients whose priapism persisted after aspiration and irrigation presented with episodes lasting >24 hours. All evaluable patients whose priapism resolved after aspiration and irrigation self-reported normal erectile function at a median of 40 months (range, 3-58 months) after the last procedure. Thus, aspiration of the corpora cavernosa followed by irrigation with dilute epinephrine is effective in producing immediate and sustained detumescence and should be the initial therapy employed for patients with SCA and prolonged priapism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-82
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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