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Pediatric paraphimosis

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Pediatric paraphimosis is a urological emergency that occurs when the foreskin, once pulled back behind the glans (head) of the penis, cannot be returned to its original position. This condition can lead to serious complications if not treated promptly, as it affects blood flow to the tip of the penis and can result in swelling, pain, and potentially more severe outcomes.

Causes and Risk Factors

Paraphimosis is often caused by:

  • Improper handling of the foreskin, such as forcefully retracting the foreskin in a child or improper replacement after cleaning or urination.
  • Medical procedures, where the foreskin is retracted for a urinary catheter placement or during an examination and not properly returned to its position.
  • Infections or inflammation that lead to swelling of the foreskin or glans.


The symptoms of paraphimosis are usually straightforward and include:

  • Swelling of the glans and the foreskin behind the glans.
  • Pain and discomfort in the affected area.
  • Discoloration of the glans, which may turn blue or red, indicating reduced blood flow.


Diagnosis of paraphimosis is primarily based on the physical examination of the affected area. The healthcare provider will assess the severity of the swelling, discoloration, and any signs of infection or reduced blood flow.


Immediate treatment is crucial to prevent complications. Treatment options include:

  • Manual reduction: A healthcare provider may attempt to manually move the foreskin to its normal position. This is often done after applying ice packs or sugar solutions to reduce the swelling, making the procedure less painful and more likely to succeed.
  • Pain management: Pain relief methods, including local anesthetics, may be used to ease the discomfort during treatment.
  • Incision or puncture: In severe cases where manual reduction is not successful, a small incision or puncture may be made to relieve the pressure and allow the foreskin to be moved back into place.
  • Circumcision: After resolving the immediate issue of paraphimosis, circumcision may be recommended to prevent recurrence, especially in cases where there is an underlying condition that predisposes the foreskin to become trapped.


Preventive measures focus on educating caregivers and healthcare providers about the proper management of the foreskin, including:

  • Avoiding forceful retraction of the foreskin in young children.
  • Ensuring the foreskin is returned to its normal position after retraction for cleaning or medical examinations.
  • Observing good hygiene practices to prevent infections that could lead to paraphimosis.


Paraphimosis is a condition that requires urgent medical attention to prevent serious complications. With timely and appropriate treatment, outcomes are generally excellent. Education on foreskin management and hygiene can play a significant role in preventing this condition in pediatric populations.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician