Man loses fingers, legs to cocaine abuse
WASHINGTON (UPI)--Doctors warned Friday of a potentially dangerous new method of cocaine abuse--injecting the drug directly into the urinary tract--a practice that led to complications costing one man his penis, nine of his fingers and parts of his legs.
In a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association, physicians from New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center report the case of a 34-year-old man who suffered severe bleeding under the skin after he pumped cocaine into the urethra of his penis.
Despite intensive medical treatment, doctors were forced to amputate the man's legs above the knee and all but one of his fingers. The patient's penis fell off by itself, doctors said.
``They (cocaine users) fill an eye dropper or a syringe with the needle taken off with a coke solution and inject the solution into the penis,'' said Dr. Samuel Perry, one of the letter's co-authors.
Perry said the man was admitted to a New York hospital for a problem with his penis, which had remained erect for three days resulting in a painful inability to urinate. The man told doctors that in the weeks before his hospitalization, he had occasionally injected cocaine into his penis before intercourse in an effort to enhance sexual performance.
On his third day in the hospital, the man's erection suddenly went down, but blood leaked into the tissues and coagulated under the skin of his feet, hands, genitals, back and chest over the next 12 hours.
The blood coagulation caused the skin, muscle and other tissue to die over large areas of the patient's body, and he was transferred to the burn unit of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. There dead skin and tissue was removed and amputations were performed to stop the spread of gangrene. The man is currently recovering in a rehabilitation facility.
Perry said the severe problem with blood coagulation may have been caused by the prolonged erection, which is called priapism. ``But more likely it was caused by cocaine or impurities in the cocaine,'' he said.
In the past, drug abuse treatment experts have reported men putting cocaine powder on the surface of the penis in an effort to halt premature ejacuation or otherwise improve sexual sensations. Women also sometimes try to enhance sexual pleasure by rubbing cocaine powder on their genital organs.
Perry, who is a professor of clinical psychiatry, said men who inject cocaine into the penis ``report that it gives them a real sexual high,'' but he said it is not known if the sensation is more intense than that produced by snorting cocaine or injecting the narcotic elsewhere in the body.
``We report this case to alert clinicians to this new method of cocaine abuse and to describe its rare and previously unreported complications,'' the doctors wrote.