In April of 2010, a “proof of concept” study published in the journal European Urology examined the question, “Can Low-Intensity Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Improve Erectile Function?”
The prime cause of most cases of erectile dysfunction (ED) is insufficient blood flow (vascular deficiency) in the penis. The current ED medications (such as Viagra and Cialis), vacuum pumps and injections are all designed to temporarily improve blood flow to the organ’s erectile tissue.
The scientists conducting this study structured their proposed new treatment on developments in cardiology and wound healing that indicate therapy employing low-intensity acoustic shockwaves (similar to ultrasound waves) can induce “neovascularization,” that is, the creation of new blood vessels.
“Almost every participant gave highly positive feedback, sometimes as early as the second treatment session, with the efficacy still present six months later,” the study’s authors concluded. “Based on our results, LIESWT appears to have the potential to be a rapid and curative therapy for ED… Our short-term results are extremely encouraging, but demand further evaluation.”
Right now , further evaluation of this promising therapy is being conducted in Poughkeepsie.
Over the last thirteen years, the Urology Division of Premier Medical Group has earned a reputation for doing excellent research, especially in the area of erectile dysfunction. For that reason, the Division was chosen, as one of only six research sites in the US, to run trials to test the efficacy of LI-ESWT therapy.
“I am really excited about the potential of this approach,” says Dr. Evan Goldfischer, Medical Director of the Research Department. “It could revolutionize the treatment of erectile dysfunction and it could get people off drugs, which are expensive and have side effects.
“The drugs and the devices and injection therapy,” says Goldfischer, “they’re all a little artificial in the sense that you have to plan your sexual activity. If this approach truly works and restores men to normal, which we hope it will, then it will allow for men to have that normal spontaneity again.”
“The crux of the treatment,” Goldfischer explains, “is neovascularization, that is, the development of new blood vessels. By inducing the development of new blood vessels, we can supply more blood to the penis and, essentially, reverse erectile dysfunction. Since about 90 percent of ED has some vascular component, the vast majority of men with ED could stand to benefit from this therapy.”
Men for whom PD5 inhibitors were ineffective because blood flow to the penis was just too deficient may now find that Viagra or Cialis will work. Other patients may discover they no longer need pills or devices for satisfactory sexual activity.
Currently, the use of Low-Intensity Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy is strictly investigational and not available for general use. There’s a protocol with specific criteria defining who is eligible to join. Once a patient is accepted into the trial (for which there is no cost), the protocol calls for two treatments a week over twelve weeks.
As Dr. Goldfischer explains it, “You come in, you lie on a table for a treatment that takes about 15 minutes. During that time about 1500 shockwaves are passed through your penis in different areas. It is not painful, it feels like little taps on the penis. There’s no medication involved and no one has required any pain pills, not even a Tylenol afterward. So far there have been no side effects in our treatments.”
The Urology Division is still actively looking for men to participate in the trial. Those interested in taking part should call 845-437-5002.