One unfortunate man recently experienced every guy’s most harrowing nightmare: Thanks to a medical error, he had to have the head of his penis surgically removed.
In a BMJ case study published on April 3, the 52-year-old man, who lived in India, went to a medical facility because he’d had an erection for 48 hours. A two-day boner that won’t go away is an actual health issue. So the medical professionals at the facility used a catheter to drain the blood that was causing it, then wrapped his penis in a compression bandage, ostensibly to prevent infection.
But things only got worse from there. A day after this procedure, the man developed a black discoloration on the head of his penis. The man went to an actual hospital, where doctors examined his penis and noticed that a catheter was still inside it, which the previous medical pros appeared to have forgotten to remove.
The doctors took the catheter out, but the black discoloration only worsened. “We removed his urethral catheter,” wrote Saqib Mehdi, one of the physicians who treated the patient. “But still the black color of glans penis deepened over the next day and a clear line of demarcation became visible between it and the penile shaft.”
The black discoloration appeared to be gangrene, a condition that causes body tissue to die. To prevent it from spreading, the MDs had to amputate the discolored area—which was the tip of his penis. The man is currently recovering, according to the report.
The case study did not explain what caused the man’s persistent initial erection—a condition medically known as priapism. But a number of factors could be behind an erection unrelated to sex that just won’t go away. Certain medications, blood disorders, and drug and alcohol use can all be to blame, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Priapism is relatively rare and not something that the men in your life necessarily have to worry about. But if someone you know does have a boner for more than four hours, urge them to seek medical attention.
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