Untold Truths About Priapism
Priapism is a prolonged erection of the penis, which is usually painful and persistent in nature. The erection lasts for more than four hours and often isn’t caused by sexual stimulation, either physically or psychologically. The condition develops when blood is trapped in the penis and is unable to drain. If not treated within 24 hours, the penis becomes permanently damaged or difficulties could be experienced in getting future erections. This erectile dysfunction is prevalent between ages of 5 and 10 in boys and 20 and 50 in men.
There are three main types of Priapism namely:
- Low blood flow (ischaemic) Priapism - which is the most common and serious type, normally caused by the lack of blood flow through the penis;
- High blood flow (non-ischaemic) Priapism — very rare, often as a result of injury in the perineum;
- Recurrent Priapism - this is characterized by long – lasting painful erections lasting for nearly 4hours.
Priapism is caused by conditions that affect nervous system or impede blood flow to the spongy tissues in the penis. The alteration in the change of blood flow results to an unwanted erection persisting. Several factors contributing to this state includes:
- Blood disorders-such as sickle cell anemia and leukemia;
- Medications such as antipsychotic agents (Thorazine) and anticoagulants;
- Trauma to spinal cord and injuries to the genital areas;
- Black widow spider bites.
In the event of an erection lasting more than usual, seeking medical attention may be necessary to determine the type of Priapism in play. Such is necessary as treatment differ for the various kinds of that exist. Diagnosis test is often carried out in identifying the exact type and treatment follows thereby afterwards. Diagnostics tests include:
- Blood gas measurement – where tiny needle is inserted into the penis removing a blood sample. Blood deprived of oxygen usually indicates the condition being ischaemic Priapism, while bright red indicates non-ischaemic Priapism. A laboratory test of the blood samples confirms the type of Priapism suffered.
- Ultrasound - a color duplex ultrasonography, using sound waves to creates the image of internal organs shows the measure of blood flow within the penis. This helps in suggesting the kind of Priapism suffered as well as revealing any injury or abnormality that may be at play.
- Toxicology test - done to screen for illegal drugs or prescription that may cause Priapism.
Treatment for Priapism will depend on the type of Priapism diagnosed from the tests and screening. High blood flow Priapism isn’t treatable. The other cases may just need time to get better on their own. Surgery may correct the blood flow in the penis in the case of injuries to genital areas. In the event diagnosis is of low blood flow Priapism, aspiration or sympathomimetic injection are recommended to treat the recurrent Priapism so as to prevent future episodes.