CHICAGO—Priapism is more common in the U.S. population than previously recognized, researchers reported at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine.

Analyzing data from 39,964 emergency department (ED) encounters nationwide from 2006-2009, lead researchers Daniel M. Stein, MD and Andrew S. Flum, MD, and colleagues at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues found that there were 8.05 priapism visits per 100,000 ED visits.

By comparison, earlier studies have revealed a priapism incidence of 0.84 cases per 100,000 male patients in Western Australia, 0.34-0.52 cases per 100,000 male patients in Finland, and 1.5 cases per 100,000 person-years in The Netherlands, according to the researchers.

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The study showed that 21.1% of patients with priapism had a concurrent diagnosis of sickle cell disease (SCD) and 72.1% of all patients were discharged home from the ED, whereas only 49.6% of patients with SCD were discharged home. Concurrent SCD was associated with a nearly fourfold increased likelihood of being admitted to the hospital.

The mean hospital charge was $1,778 per encounter if the patient was discharged home and $41,909 per encounter if the patient was admitted. The researchers calculated that hospital charges associated with priapism totaled more than $110 million annually, and more than 90% of these charges were associated with inpatient admission.

“If we can find ways to manage the condition more effectively in the emergency room, we can actually cut [some] of the charges associated with the condition,” Dr. Flum said.

The meeting is cosponsored by the International Society for Sexual Medicine and the Sexual Medicine Society of North America.