September 6th, 2016
Erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to an inability to achieve and/or sustain stronger penile erections for a significant period of time. According to latest statistics, more than 40% men suffers from some degree of erectile dysfunction by the age of 40 years. Although many treatment options have been devised to treat this manhood disorder; but unfortunately there is no curative solution to date.
There are several options available to manage ED symptoms in men; for example, most notable methods include vacuum devices, injections with pharmacoactive drugs (such as phosphodiesterase inhibitors like Viagra and Cialis) and other unconventional methods like rings & pumps. Another very popular and successful treatment option is penile prosthesis/ implant; but nonetheless, the results and efficacy varies significantly from person to person.
Seek for better and reliable treatment options has led to development of a new option – i.e. low intensity shock wave therapy (also known as Li-Swt). It involves the use of shockwaves into the penile tissues which enhances the blood flow towards the penis and reinstate the capability to have erections. Previously, the low intensity shockwave therapy have been used on patients with the inflammation of joints or extremities as well as cardiac tissues and now it will be used for the management of ED as well.
The first study to investigate the effects of shockwave therapy in ED patients was performed on 20 subjects (age range 56.1 ± 10.7 years) without any serious health issues. As part of the treatment protocol, two treatment sessions were advised per week for three weeks. Within a small period of time, 15 of 20 males reported significant improvement in the ED symptoms. It was also observed that results were better in males who responds to phosphodiesterase inhibitor therapy (2). Although, the results of the therapy are revolutionary, it is too early to say that the treatment works in 100% cases. Investigators proposed that shockwave treatment should be performed in a larger subset of population to obtain results that are reflective of the general population.
Shockwave therapy involves the use of acoustic waves which generates strong pressure impulse that carries energy through tissues or a medium and leads to perusal of better blood flow towards penis via neo-vascularization process. In other words, pressure pulses promotes the formation of new blood vessels in the penis to restore normal erectile functions. The literal meaning of neo-vascularization is formation of new blood vessels and improving blood circulation in desired organ.
According to another study, the Li-SWT also fixes the damaged blood vessels in penis, which are reason for developing erection issues because sufficient blood flow is necessary for achieving strong erections that will be maintained till the climax.
This therapy can be easily performed in an office setting and patient can stay awake throughout the session. The procedure involves the use of a hand held probe that can be applied on various areas of penis, including its root. The entire therapy takes about 15-20 minutes. So far the trials involving shockwave treatment have been successful and no significant complications have been reported. However, those who are on anti-coagulant therapy are not ideal candidates for the procedure.
The low intensity shock wave therapy is a revolting one that has evoked hope in men who are not responding to any other method of ED treatment.
1. Gruenwald, I., Appel, B., Kitrey, N. D., & Vardi, Y. (2013). Shockwave treatment of erectile dysfunction. Therapeutic advances in urology, 1756287212470696.
2. Vardi, Y., Appel, B., Kilchevsky, A., & Gruenwald, I. (2012). Does low intensity extracorporeal shock wave therapy have a physiological effect on erectile function? Short-term results of a randomized, double-blind, sham controlled study. The Journal of urology, 187(5), 1769-1775.
3. Vardi, Y., Appel, B., Jacob, G., Massarwi, O., & Gruenwald, I. (2010). Can low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy improve erectile function? A 6-month follow-up pilot study in patients with organic erectile dysfunction. European urology, 58(2), 243-248.
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