Safety and Efficacy of Phenylephrine Administration for the Treatment of Ischemic Priapism: An Opportunity for Quality Improvement in Periprocedural Safety Assessment



      To determine the safety and efficacy of hourly, high dose phenylephrine (>1000 μg) for acute ischemic priapism (AIP) through monitoring adverse hemodynamic events amongst risk profiles.


      An IRB-approved retrospective review of patients with AIP from 2010 to 2020. Patients were stratified to a low or high dose phenylephrine group based on cumulative, hourly dose of ≤1000 μg and > 1000 μg respectively and examined for successful resolution of their AIP. The safety profile of phenylephrine for patients at risk for adverse hemodynamic events was examined.


      A total of 123 patients were identified with a median age of 40 (range: 7-76) years with median time from AIP onset to presentation of 11 (2-168) hours. A total of 97 men received phenylephrine (78.9%) and detumescence was achieved nonoperatively in 62 of these men (63.9%) with a mean priapism duration of 8.7 hours. Those resolving with phenylephrine administration had a mean duration of 8.8 ± 5.6 vs 57.3 ± 37.1 hours without resolution P < .001. Among low and high dose phenylephrine groups (500 and 2000 μg respectively), the median duration of AIP was 10 and 12 hours respectively without a difference in AIP resolution (P > .05). Twenty-one patients (17.1%) were deemed at risk for phenylephrine complication of which 4 (4.1%) had phenylephrine discontinued due to hemodynamic changes.


      Nonoperative resolution of AIP with phenylephrine does not appear to be dose-dependent and hemodynamic changes secondary to phenylephrine administration may be underreported. Future work should utilize standardized risk assessment and periprocedural monitoring for hemodynamic change.
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