What is the prevalence of priapism in the US?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019
  • Author: Osama Al-Omar, MD, MBA, FACS, FEBU; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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A review of United States emergency department visits with a primary diagnosis of priapism from 2006 to 2009 determined that the annual incidence rate was 5.34 per 100,000 males. The rate of visits was 31.4% higher in summer months than in winter months. [15]

The frequency of priapism varies in different populations. The combination of intracavernosal agents and other drugs is the cause of approximately 21-80% of all adult priapism in the United States. Agents used to treat erectile dysfunction are common causes of adult priapism in the Western world. The overall rate of priapism in persons using these agents ranges from 0.05-6%. This group tends to be better educated about the risk of priapism; therefore, they seek treatment earlier.

In other population groups, sickle cell disease (SCD) and sickle cell trait predominate as the cause of adult priapism. The rate of priapism in adults with SCD is as high as 89%. In one study, 38-42% of adult males with SCD reported at least one episode of priapism. Approximately two thirds of all pediatric patients who have priapism also have SCD. The rate of priapism among children with SCD is as high as 27%.

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