Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Penile strangulation by multiple steel ball bearings: desperate situation-desperate measures
  1. Iqbal Singh1,
  2. Dhirendra Suman2,
  3. Sanjay Gupta3,
  4. Gaurav Garg4
  1. 1Urology Division, Department of Surgery, UCMS and GTB Hospital, New Delhi, India
  2. 2Department of Plastic Surgery, UCMS and GTB Hospital, New Delhi, India
  3. 3Department of Surgery, UCMS and GTB Hospital, New Delhi, India
  4. 4Department of Urology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gaurav Garg, gougarg{at}

Statistics from


A 33-year-old male patient was referred with progressive penile pain and swelling following history of self-placement of two industrial steel ball bearings for sexual gratification about 2 weeks back. The patient denied any history of trauma, insect bite, drug abuse and was dribbling urine, was sexually active and his history was unremarkable. Local examination revealed an engorged tender penis with two steel ball bearings strangulating the root of penis with pressure necrosis exfoliation/pregangrene of penile skin (figure 1A). The blood biochemistry/urine reports were within normal limits and corporal blood gas analysis (pO2 25 mm Hg, pCO2 65 mm Hg, pH 7.18) confirmed local ischaemia. Despite multiple attempts at corporal injections/aspirations (diluted norepinephrine), intermittent penile pneumatic pressure cuff inflation (<80 mm Hg), Gigli wires and modified strings, the same could not be removed. Due to risk of penile gangrene (under anaesthesia, aseptic precautions/ensuring site safety/necessary safeguards and consent) after stabilisation of rings with an Allis forceps and countersupport with BP handle (figure 1B) we resorted to desperate measure of cutting the steel rings with a motorised electric ring (professional industrial marble cutting tool) BoschGDC120 under chilled saline drip for penile cooling (figure 1C). The chilled saline drip (lowered temperature to about 20°C that helped in reducing collateral thermal damage) and the rings were extricated successfully in 15 min (figure 1D) and the patient was catheterised uneventfully. The swelling was considerably reduced after 2 days and the patient was discharged on Foley catheter after 1 week. On second week follow-up the patient was potent and developed urethrocutaneous fistula (UCF). He admits that he still experiences nocturnal penile tumescence and early morning erections. The patient is currently undergoing psychiatric counselling and treatment for UCF. Penile strangulation by steel ball bearings can occur uncommonly secondary to their placement for sexual gratification.1–3 If left untreated they have the potential to cause penile gangrene, urethral injury and erectile dysfunction.1 The management of penile strangulation injuries comprises urgent penile decompression to prevent penile necrosis.1 To ensure penile salvage in desperate situations where conventional measures fail there is compulsion to use desperate measures that may be unconventional and are difficult to avoid.1 3 If the urethra appears intact a per-urethral catheter may be placed else a suprapubic catheter may be placed for an uninhibited micturition.4 We do not promote the unauthorised use of any equipment/device/ therapy and advocate the reader to exercise judicious care, extreme caution, follow all necessary procedures, training, credentialing and laws on the subject concerned as prevalent in the country of origin.

Figure 1

(A) Clinical image showing an engorged tender penis with two steel ball bearings strangulating the root of penis with pressure necrosis exfoliation/pregangrene of penile skin. (B, C) Clinical image showing cutting the rings with motorised industrial tool. (D) Clinical image showing retrieved ball bearings.

Learning points

  • Strangulation of penis is an uncommon situation due to self-placement of a wide variety of strangulating objects for sexual gratification. Penile strangulation by multiple constricting metallic rings may lead to penile gangrene/necrosis/urethral injury/fistula and erectile dysfunction.

  • Steel ball bearings encircling penis that cannot be removed may need cutting (with Gigli wire or motorised tools) to preserve penile function and prevent urethral injury.


View Abstract


  • Contributors GG and IS: concept, design, supervision, processing, writing manuscript and critical analysis. DS: supervision, processing, writing manuscript and critical analysis. SG: concept, supervision, writing manuscript and critical analysis.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The authors specifically disclaim any liability for any loss or harm to whomsoever from the use of any information/material in this manuscript whether explicit or implied.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.