Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (LI-ESWT) can be used as a treatment for men with erectile dysfunction of organic origin.
Materials and methods: This prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study included 112 men unable to have intercourse either with or without medication. Erectile dysfunction was assessed at screening and 5, 12 and 24 weeks after treatment. Assessment was performed by interview and using the Erection Hardness Scale (EHS) and the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-15) questionnaire. The men were randomly assigned either to LI-ESWT (n = 51, active group) or placebo (n = 54, placebo group). They received five treatments over 5 weeks. Both the participants and the doctors were blinded to the treatment. After 10 weeks, the placebo group received active treatment (active placebo group).
Results: Twenty-nine men (57%, active group) were able to obtain an erection after treatment and to have sexual intercourse without the use of medication. In the placebo group, only five men (9%) showed similar results (p = 0.0001). The EHS after 5 weeks showed that men in the active group experienced a significant improvement in their erectile dysfunction, but no significant result was found with the use of the IIEF - Erectile Function domain.
Conclusions: This placebo-controlled study over 5 weeks shows that 57% of the men who suffered from erectile dysfunction had an effect from LI-ESWT. After 24 weeks, seven (19%, active group) and nine (23%, active placebo group) men were still able to have intercourse without medication. This study shows a possible cure in some patients, but more research, longer follow-up in the placebo group and an international multicentre randomized study are needed.
Keywords: Erectile dysfunction; extracorporeal shockwave; penis.