Vascular damage as a risk factor for benign prostatic hyperplasia and erectile dysfunction


Andreas P. Berger, Department of Urology, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


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 benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and erectile dysfunction (ED), both considered to be associated with urogenital ageing, in ageing men in a cross-sectional population study, comparing them with healthy controls by using symptom scores and contrast-enhanced colour Doppler ultrasonography (CDUS).


Transrectal CDUS and quantitative measurement of colour pixel intensity (CPI) are excellent minimally invasive techniques for assessing normal and pathological blood flow. CDUS was performed using the microbubble-based ultrasound enhancer for evaluating prostate, bladder neck and corpus cavernosum vascularity in young healthy men, men with BPH, and men with severe vascular damage (diabetes mellitus type 2). Resistive index measurements and computer-assisted quantification of CPI were used to objectively evaluate perfusion. The International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) were applied to quantify the symptoms.


In patients with BPH, perfusion of the transition zone (TZ) of the prostate was significantly lower and the resistive index of the TZ significantly higher (both P < 0.001) than in healthy controls. The perfusion patterns of men with BPH and those who also had severe vascular damage (diabetes mellitus type 2) showed that vascularity in the latter group was lower in the prostatic TZ and the corpora cavernosa. In patients with BPH the IPSS, quality-of-life and IIEF scores were significantly worse than in the control group. Men with concomitant atherosclerosis had even worse symptom scores.


These results strongly support the hypothesis that age-related impairment of blood supply to the lower urinary tract is important in the development of BPH and ED. Vascular damage may cause chronic ischaemia and thus be a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of BPH and ED.