When is emergency department (ED) treatment indicated for priapism in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD)?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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For episodes that last more than 2 hours, patients should go to the emergency department to receive intravenous hydration and parenteral analgesia. According to one protocol, if detumescence does not occur within 1 hour after arrival in the emergency department, penile aspiration followed by irrigation of the corpora with a 1:1,000,000 solution of epinephrine in saline is initiated. [91] (The procedure should be performed within 4-6 h of priapism onset.)

The concomitant use of automated red cell exchange transfusions to reduce the HbS level to less than 30% may also be considered, especially if early intervention with irrigation fails. Should the condition recur despite aspiration and local instillation of vasoactive drugs, consider shunting. In this procedure, known as the Winter procedure, a shunt is created between the glans penis and the distal corpora cavernosa; this allows blood from the distended corpora cavernosa to drain into the uninvolved corpus spongiosa. A larger shunt may be created if this is not successful.

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