INTENSITY SHOCK WAVE THERAPY FOR ED
This type of shock wave therapy involves using the
energy from sound waves and not electric current. It has been in use for many years to treat
medical problems such as tennis elbow, planter fasciitis and to promote bone
and wound healing. Low intensity shock
wave therapy uses much less sound wave energy than high intensity shock wave
therapy; high intensity shock wave therapy has been used to treat conditions
such as kidney and gall stones.
Low intensity shock wave therapy goes by many names,
including; ESWT (extra-corporal shock wave therapy), LI-ESWT (low intensity
extra-corporal shock wave therapy) and sound wave therapy.
ESWT is currently used for many medical conditions
but is only FDA approved for a very limited number of conditions, such as
tennis elbow and planter fasciitis. ESWT
is not FDA approved for the treatment of ED (erectile dysfunction). There are a very limited number of studies on
the efficacy and side effects of ESWT for ED.
While some of these studies have shown promising and encouraging results,
ESWT is still considered an experimental treatment and is an off-label treatment for ED.
One possible goal of ESWT in the treatment of ED, is
to promote neovascularization or the formation of new blood vessels. It does this by causing microtrauma inside
this penis. As most ED is caused by poor penile blood flow, the hope is that
improved blood flow will give rise to improved erections. Conventional treatments such as Viagra and
penile injection therapy produce improved erectile function for minutes or
hours. While the studies to date suggest
that the benefits of ESWT usually diminish over time, the improved erectile
function after a series of treatments may last for many months. Certainly not a
cure, but a step in the right direction.
ESWT is usually performed in a series of treatments over
a few weeks lasting about 20 minutes each. The treatment is applied on
the side of the man’s penis with what looks like a large vibrator and with what
sounds like a small jack hammer. It
feels like a thud, thud, thud on the penis.
Most patients describe it as relatively painless. Most men can go about their regular business
after a treatment.
Most of the 15-20 clinical studies to date which have evaluated ESWT for the treatment of ED have involved 6 treatment sessions, with each session delivering a total of 3000 low intensity shockwaves. We are following these study protocols and use a shockwave device that delivers the same frequency, duration and intensity of shockwave that has been used in most of the studies.
There are dozens of physician groups around the country now performing shockwave therapy for ED. Their programs go by many different names, such as shockwave, gainswave, sonicwave, pressure wave, acoustic wave, corewave, swisswave, etc. Some physician groups are part of a large marketing program to promote shockwave therapy for ED and some are not. Those physicians that are not part of these marketing programs may be in a position to offer shockwave therapy to their patients at a lower cost.
ESWT has few known side effects. While most men experience no side effects
from ESWT other than a temporary redness of the penis, some men experience some
discomfort during and after the procedure.
Some men have some bruising and swelling.
Men with bleeding disorders or who are taking
anti-coagulant and/or anti-androgen medications, who have had previous pelvic, penile
or prostate surgery or radiation are not good candidates for ESWT. Men with implanted defibrillators or pacemakers may be at an increased risk for side effects from ESWT.
As with all medical treatments, results will
vary. Some men may have dramatic
improvement in their erectile function after shockwave therapy and others may have no benefit at all.
ESWT is not for everyone; It is experimental, expensive and time consuming. It does however represent one of the newest
and most exciting methods of treatment for ED in a very long time.