What is the role of imaging studies in the workup of priapism?

Updated: Dec 26, 2019
  • Author: Osama Al-Omar, MD, MBA, FACS, FEBU; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Color-flow penile Doppler imaging is currently the study of choice to differentiate high-flow from low-flow priapism. In patients with high-flow priapism, ultrasonography can help identify and locate fistulas. In a study of 52 patients, von Stempel et al found that on Dopper ultrasonography, a peak systolic velocity of less than 50 cm/sec and a mean velocity of less than 6.5 cm/sec were predictive of ischemic priapism. [21]

In patients with high-flow priapism, selective penile angiography may be required in order to identify the site of the fistula, or to confirm the location of a fistula identified by ultrasound. The fistula can then be closed by embolization.

Perform chest radiography or computed tomography (CT) scanning if the history is consistent with a malignant or metastatic condition. Perform an electrocardiogram if the patient is older than 55 years, has a history of cardiac disease, or is a possible surgical candidate.

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