A prospective evaluation of efficacy and compliance with a multistep treatment approach for erectile dysfunction in patients after non-nerve sparing radical prostatectomy

Paolo Gontero, Francesco Fontana, Andrea Zitella, Francesco Montorsi, Bruno Frea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To assess the response rate to different erectile aids in a consecutive series of patients treated with non-nerve sparing radical prostatectomy (NNSRP). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Ninety-four potent men were counselled about the different treatment options to restore an assisted erection before they had NNSRP, They were invited to participate in a multiphase protocol involving the sequential use of different erectile aids which aimed at restoring erectile function after surgery. The first proposed treatment was oral apomorphine sublingual. Patients with a positive response to the 1-item overall efficacy question and a minimum score of 3 in both question 3 and 4 of the International Index of Erectile Function were considered responders to oral pharmacotherapy. Treatment with sildenafil was then suggested to those not responding. If patients did not respond to oral pharmacotherapy a trial with a vacuum erectile device was offered; those not responding to this were then offered intracavernosal injection therapy with prostaglandin-E alone as the first option, followed by a mixture of vasoactive agents if needed. In those in whom injections also failed, a penile implant was recommended. At the 1-year follow-up visit all patients were offered a second trial with oral therapy regardless of the treatment currently in use. RESULTS: Seventy-six patients entered the protocol; there was no response to apomorphine. Five of 59 (8%) patients responded to sildenafil when they first used it at a mean of 7 months after NNSRP, while there were three additional responders in 22 patients who tried it for a second time a year later. Of patients achieving at least a complete tumescence sufficient for vaginal penetration, 52% and 60% were considered responders to the vacuum device and intracavernosal injections, respectively. Overall, 44% of patients enrolled in the protocol chose to use an erectile aid for at-home use. At the 1-year follow-up, only 20% of patients were still using an erectile aid, including two who had had a penile implant. CONCLUSIONS: Up to 10% of patients may achieve a clinically significant erection with sildenafil after NNSRP, but 80% will not be using any erectile aid at 1 year after surgery. In the present study protocol the proposed erectile aids were largely inadequate for treating the permanent erectile dysfunction that follows NNSRP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalBJU International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005


  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Intracavernosal injections
  • Oral treatment
  • Radical prostatectomy
  • Vacuum pump

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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