Erectile dysfunction(ED) is the consistent inability to obtain or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse. More than 90% of ED is related to an organic cause which results in a decrease in blood flow to the penis and an inadequate erection.
In men over 50 years the commonest factors associated with ED are hypertension, raised cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus and excessive alcohol consumption.
Patients who have had radical prostatectomy or pelvic surgery as well as those who have had pelvic radiotherapy for prostate or rectal cancer may be affected. Other conditions include pelvic trauma, stroke and neurological disorders as well as prescription drugs.
ED can lead to a loss of self esteem, performance anxiety and depression which in turn can have a profound effect on the relationship between a man and his partner.
After an appropriate evaluation has been performed, the first line treatment is oral therapy with drugs such as the phospo-diesterase inhibitors Cialis, Viagra and Levitra which work in 65% of men with ED. For non-responders, self injection therapy and vacuum erection devices should be considered.
If these measures fail, the best treatment is the surgical placement of an internal penile pump, known as a penile implant. This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic during which an inflatable water filled device is placed in the shaft of the penis. By squeezing a 2cm pump which is placed in the scrotum fluid is pumped into the penis resulting in a long lasting erection. To return the penis to its flaccid state the pump is once again squeezed. Penile implants are safe, effective, durable and have a low failure rate. Patient and partner satisfaction are high.
There are two types of inflatable penile implants - a 2 part (Ambicor) and a 3 part device.
For further information on these devices go to: