A man in his sixties who was hospitalized for a COVID-19 infection developed priapism at the same time. He is not the first patient to present both pathologies simultaneously, which could be related.
The case of this 62-year-old man, who has both COVID-19 infection and priapism, an erection that lasts more than 4 hours without sexual stimulation, was reported in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine on June 17. The patient was admitted to the emergency room after suffering from a particularly severe and acute shortness of breath. Two days earlier, he visited his doctor and complained of fever, diarrhea, and dry cough. After his stay in the hospital, he was put on a ventilator and suffered a drop in blood pressure, which required intravenous injections.
Medical tests showed the patient had a COVID-19 infection. During these tests, the doctors also observed priapism, an erection that lasted several hours without sexual stimulation. This disease, if poorly treated or ignored, can cause serious side effects to the penis, including penile necrosis. In the sexagenarian, the erection was characterized by two rigid cavernous bodies, while the glans was soft. After four hours of compression with ice, blood aspiration revealed a black blood clot characteristic of RFP (Reduced Flow Priapism). This type of priapism is dangerous because it is due to an obstruction of venous flow and therefore a complete interruption of blood flow in the area. It is the stagnation of the blood in the patient’s erectile tissue that would have caused it to clot and led to penile thrombosis. Two weeks later, the patient was able to return home.
This patient is not the first case of thromboembolic complications in patients infected with COVID-19. “In fact, in patients with COVID-19, all elements of the Virchow Triad are present simultaneously, which promotes thrombosis,” the medical team stresses. These three elements are venous stasis, hypercoagulability, and endothelial dysfunction. The link between priapism and COVID-19 can, therefore, be useful.
More research needed
Further research is needed to clarify the relationship between these two conditions. “While the arguments for a causal link between COVID-19 and priapism and the ischemic mechanism of priapism are very strong in our case, more reports of this kind would help support the evidence,” the doctors said. This medical emergency should be identified and treated immediately by medical professionals to avoid immediate and chronic functional complications.