The first-line treatment for low-flow priapism is drawing blood from the corpus cavernosum. The penis is numbed, aspirated for blood, and then irrigated with saline and drugs called alpha-agonists (if necessary) injected into the corpus cavernosum. This procedure has a high rate of success and can be repeated in time.
Second-line treatment typically refers to penile surgery. It should be used in case of emergency, only after conservative and first-line treatments have failed.
There are two main types of surgery for low-flow priapism: penile shunt surgery and penile prosthesis implantation.
Penile shunt surgery
Penile shunt surgery is performed to restore an exit for blood and to re-establish blood circulation within the penis. A connection (“shunt”) is created between the corpora cavernosa and the glans of the penis. Talk to your doctor if you would like more information about the techniques used.
Penile prosthesis implant
Penile prosthesis implantation can be performed immediately if shunt surgery does not work or if low-flow priapism has lasted 48-72 hours. Prolonged low-flow priapism can cause fibrous tissue to develop in the penis and cause permanent damage.