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, Clinica Urologica, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.
email: gontero@med.unipmn.it


Associate Editor

Michael G. Wyllie

Editorial Board

Ian Eardley, UK

Jean Fourcroy, USA

Sidney Glina, Brazil

Julia Heiman, USA

Chris McMahon, Australia

Bob Millar, UK

Alvaro Morales, Canada

Michael Perelman, USA

Marcel Waldinger, Netherlands


To assess the response rate to different erectile aids in a consecutive series of patients treated with non-nerve sparing radical prostatectomy (NNSRP).


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.


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.


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.