Penile Rehabilitation after Radical Prostatectomy: Where Do We Stand and Where Are We Going?


  • Run Wang MD, FACS

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Urology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX, USA;
    2. MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA
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Run Wang, MD, UT-Houston Medical School—Urology, 6431, Fannin Street Suite 6018, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel: (+1) 713 500 7337; Fex: (+1) 713 500 7319; E-mail:


Introduction.  Postprostatectomy erectile dysfunction (ED) remains a serious quality-of-life issue. Recent advances in the understanding of the mechanism of postprostatectomy ED have stimulated great attention toward penile rehabilitation.

Aim.  This review presents and analyzes a contemporary series of the recent medical literature pertaining to penile rehabilitation therapy after radical prostatectomy (RP).

Main Outcome Measures.  The laboratory and clinical studies related to penile rehabilitation are analyzed. The validity of the methodology and the conclusion of the findings from each study are determined.

Methods.  The published and presented reports dealing with penile rehabilitation following RP in human and cavernous nerve injury in animal models are reviewed.

Results.  Exciting scientific discoveries have improved our understanding of postprostatectomy ED at the molecular level. The rationale for postprostatectomy penile rehabilitation appears to be logical according to animal studies. However, clinical studies have not consistently replicated the beneficial effects found in the laboratory studies. Currently available clinical studies are flawed due to short-term follow-up, small number of patients in the studies, studies with retrospective nature, or prospective studies without control. Rehabilitation programs are also facing a challenge with the compliance, which is critical for success for any rehabilitation program. At the present time, we do not have concrete evidence to recommend what, when, how long, and how often a particular penile rehabilitative therapy can be used effectively.

Conclusions.  Large prospective, multicentered, placebo-controlled trials with adequate follow-up are necessary to determine the cost-effective and therapeutic benefits of particular penile rehabilitative therapy or therapies in patients following the treatment of clinically localized prostate cancer. Until such evidence is available, it is difficult to recommend any particular penile rehabilitation program as a standard of practice. Wang R. Penile rehabilitation after radical prostatectomy: Where do we stand and where are we going? J Sex Med 2007;4:1085–1097.