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Management of Penile Calciphylaxis

A Case Study

Zillioux, Jacqueline M.; Geisenhoff, Alexander; Gray, Mikel

Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing: November/December 2018 - Volume 45 - Issue 6 - p 536–539
doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000483
Challenges in Practice

BACKGROUND: Calciphylaxis, also called calcific uremic arteriolopathy, is a highly morbid syndrome characterized by calcium deposition and occlusion of small arterial vessels of the dermis and subdermal adipose tissue, leading to necrosis and gangrene. Penile involvement is rare and its management presents considerable challenges.

CASE: We review the case of a 47-year-old man with end-stage renal disease managed with hemodialysis, diabetes mellitus, and urinary incontinence who presented with a painful necrotic lesion on his glans penis, and the second and third toes of his right foot. Following diagnosis of calciphylaxis of the toes and penis, he was conservatively managed with topical wound care, sodium thiosulfate adjustment of hemodialysis, and phosphate binder medications. Over the course of 2 months, his wound worsened in the setting of continued urinary incontinence, and before planned diversion with a suprapubic catheter, he progressed to gangrene and sepsis. After a goals-of-care discussion with the patient and family, he elected to forego debridement and was discharged on home-based palliative care.

CONCLUSIONS: Penile calciphylaxis is a rare, life-threatening disease that portends a poor prognosis. Conservative principles for management include normalization of calcium phosphate levels and local wound care. Penectomy may not impact survival. Ultimately, each case is individualized, and we encourage establishing goals of care in collaborative discussion with an interdisciplinary care team, patient, and family.

Jacqueline M. Zillioux, MD, Department of Urology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Alexander Geisenhoff, BS, School of Medicine, Rush University, Chicago, Illinois.

Mikel Gray, PhD, Department of Urology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Correspondence: Jacqueline M. Zillioux, MD, Department of Urology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2018 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.