Nationwide Emergency Department Visits for Priapism in the United States


Corresponding Author: Daniel M. Stein, MD, MHS, Department of Urology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 303 E. Chicago Ave., 16-710, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. Tel: (312) 908-8145; Fax: (312) 908-7275; E-mail:



The epidemiology of priapism is not well characterized. A small number of studies based on inpatient data or small population samples have estimated the incidence to range from 0.34 to 1.5 cases per 100,000 males.


To estimate the current epidemiology and impact on resource utilization of priapism in the United States (US).

Main Outcome Measures

Rate of emergency department encounters for priapism in the US.


Emergency department (ED) visits for priapism were analyzed using discharge data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS), Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). Priapism encounters were identified by ICD9 code. Priapism encounters were analyzed for patient and hospital characteristics, associated diagnoses, and hospital charge. Established weighting in the sample was used to calculate nationwide estimates.


A total of 8,738 ED encounters for priapism were identified between 2006 and 2009 in the NEDS. This translated to an estimated 39,964 encounters out of a total of 496,195,793 ED visits, or 8.05 per 100,000 ED visits (95% confidence interval [CI] 7.59–8.51). 21.1% of patients had a concurrent diagnosis of sickle cell disease (SCD). 72.1% of all patients were discharged home from the ED, while only 49.6% of patients with SCD were discharged home. A concurrent diagnosis of SCD was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 3.84 (95% CI 3.65–4.05) for admission to the hospital when controlling for age, region, hospital and payer type. The mean hospital charge was $1,778 per encounter if discharged home and $41,909 per encounter if admitted. The estimated mean total annual charge for priapism was $123,860,432 with 86.8% of charges attributed to inpatient admissions.


Our estimate of the rate of ED visits for priapism was significantly higher than prior estimates with a SCD concurrence rate lower than previously estimated. Stein DM, Flum AS, Cashy J, Zhao LC, and McVary KT. Nationwide emergency department visits for priapism in the United States. J Sex Med 2013;10:2418–2422.