Management of Recurrent Ischemic Priapism 2014: A Complex Condition with Devastating Consequences

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Abstract

Introduction.

The management of recurrent ischemic priapism (RIP) is not clearly defined. Given the rarity of this condition, most treatment options are supported at best by level 3 or 4 evidence.

Aim.

In this article, we review the current literature regarding the pathophysiology and management of RIP and discuss the risks and benefits associated with each option, which includes ketoconazole (KTZ), 5-α-reductase inhibitors and other hormonal therapies, phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, intracavernosal sympathomimetic injection, oral sympathomimetic agents, and other investigational therapies.

Methods.

A comprehensive literature review was performed regarding the management options for RIP.

Main Outcome Measure.

To examine the pathophysiology of RIP and evaluate the treatment options.

Results.

Multiple agents have been investigated to manage RIP. KTZ, finasteride, anti-androgens, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, and estrogen have been shown to be effective in several reports, though some of these agents may have significant hormonal side effects. PDE5 inhibitors currently appear to be well tolerated in this patient population, though evidence of its efficacy is limited. Intracavernosal α-agonist therapy may be used to treat episodes of priapism after they occur. Very limited data suggest terbutaline, oral α-agonists, digoxin, hydroxyurea, and gabapentin may have a role in RIP management.

Conclusions.

An ideal management strategy for RIP should focus on prevention of priapic episodes using an effective, well-tolerated, cost-effective medication. We currently have several proposed options, with varying efficacy rates and side effect profiles. While significant advancements in our understanding and management of stuttering priapism have been made within the past few years, clearly continuing research and clinical studies are needed to guide our management of this disease process.

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