Managing patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) who failed to respond to phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5is) is a challenging task. Recently, low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (LI-ESWT) was reported to improve ED by enhancing perfusion of the penis. The current study was performed to evaluate whether combined treatment with LI-ESWT and PDE5is can restore erectile function in patients who failed to respond to PDE5is alone. This was an open-label single-arm prospective study. ED patients with an erection hardness score (EHS) ≦2 under a maximal dosage of PDE5is were enrolled. Sociodemographic information and detailed medical history were recorded. LI-ESWT treatment consisted of 3,000 shockwaves once weekly for 12 weeks. All patients continued their regular PDE5is use. The EHS and the 5-item version of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5) were used to evaluate the change in erectile function 1 and 3 months after LI-ESWT. A total of 52 patients were enrolled. After LI-ESWT treatment, 35 of the 52 patients (67.3%) could achieve an erection hard enough for intercourse (EHS ≧ 3) under PDE5is use at the 1-month follow-up. Initial severity of ED was the only significant predictor of a successful response (EHS1: 35.7% vs. EHS2: 78.9%, p = .005). Thirty-three of the 35 (94.3%) subjects who responded to LI-ESWT could still maintain their erectile function at the 3-month follow-up. LI-ESWT can serve as a salvage therapy for ED patients who failed to respond to PDE5is. Initial severity of ED was an important predictor of a successful response.
Keywords: erectile dysfunction; erection hardness score; phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor; shockwave therapy.