Erectile dysfunction: a global review of intracavernosal injectables

World J Urol. 2019 Jun;37(6):1007-1014. doi: 10.1007/s00345-019-02727-5. Epub 2019 Mar 20.


Purpose: Data assessing the effectiveness of intracavernosal injections (ICIs) for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) are limited. This study evaluates intracavernosal injectable therapies for ED and reviews available guidelines that inform clinical practice.

Methods: A systematic search using electronic databases (Medline, Pubmed) was performed for studies investigating injectable management strategies for ED published after 1990. Primary outcome measures were to comparatively evaluate clinical efficacy, continuation rates and adverse event profiles of each injectable agent as monotherapy or in combination. The secondary outcome measurement was to discuss available guidelines that inform clinical practice for injectable agents.

Results: ICIs demonstrate clinical efficacy in 54-100% of patients, early discontinuation rates of ≤ 38% and adverse events in ≤ 26%. Discontinuation rates are typically greatest within 3-6 months of commencement. Anxiety related to the initial injection occurs in approximately 65% and anxiety levels can remain high for 4 months. Approval of intracavernosal injection agents is mainly limited to alprostadil with the recent addition of aviptadil/phentolamine combination therapy in a select few geographical regions. Although combination therapies are attractive alternative options, their formulations are variable and should be standardised before widespread acceptance is achieved.

Conclusions: ICIs are associated with good clinical efficacy rates, high discontinuation rates and a moderate side-effect profile. They represent an important tool in the urological armamentarium for treating ED in patients that cannot tolerate or are refractory to oral therapies.

Keywords: Erectile dysfunction (ED); Intracavernosal injections; Treatment of ED; Treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alprostadil / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Male
  • Penis
  • Phentolamine / administration & dosage*
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / administration & dosage*
  • Vasodilator Agents / administration & dosage*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide
  • aviptadil
  • Alprostadil
  • Phentolamine