What is the effectiveness of surgical and non-surgical therapies in the treatment of ischemic priapism in patients with sickle cell disease? A systematic review by the EAU Sexual and Reproductive Health Guidelines Panel

Int J Impot Res. 2024 Feb;36(1):20-35. doi: 10.1038/s41443-022-00590-4. Epub 2022 Aug 8.


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited hemoglobin disorder characterized by the occlusion of small blood vessels by sickle-shaped red blood cells. SCD is associated with a number of complications, including ischemic priapism. While SCD accounts for at least one-third of all priapism cases, no definitive treatment strategy has been established to specifically treat patients with SC priapism. The aim of this systematic review was to assess the efficacy and safety of contemporary treatment modalities for acute and stuttering ischemic priapism associated with SCD. The primary outcome measures were defined as resolution of acute priapism (detumescence) and complete response of stuttering priapism, while the primary harm outcome was as sexual dysfunction. The protocol for the review has been registered (PROSPERO Nr: CRD42020182001), and a systematic search of Medline, Embase, and Cochrane controlled trials databases was performed. Three trials with 41 observational studies met the criteria for inclusion in this review. None of the trials assessed detumescence, as a primary outcome. All of the trials reported a complete response of stuttering priapism; however, the certainty of the evidence was low. It is clear that assessing the effectiveness of specific interventions for priapism in SCD, well-designed, adequately-powered, multicenter trials are strongly required.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pathologic Complete Response
  • Priapism* / etiology
  • Priapism* / therapy
  • Reproductive Health