Sexual Rehabilitation and Penile Pain Associated with Intracavernous Alprostadil after Radical Prostatectomy


René Yiou, MD, PhD, Urology Department, INSERM Team 10, Hospital Henri Mondor, 51 av du Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny, Créteil 94010, France. Tel: +33 149812553; Fax: +33 149812552; E-mail:


Introduction.  Intracavernous alprostadil injection (IAI) is widely used for sexual rehabilitation (SR) after radical prostatectomy (RP). However, the rate of spontaneous erection recovery with IAI remains unclear, and IAI causes pain that may hinder SR.

Aims.  To assess SR in IAI users after RP and to evaluate the course and impact on SR of postinjection penile pain.

Methods.  We prospectively studied 87 patients who underwent nerve-sparing laparoscopic RP, reported normal preoperative erectile function, and used IAI for 12 months. Patients started with 2.5 µg alprostadil and were advised to increase the dose gradually until erection hardness allowed vaginal penetration.

Main Outcome Measures.  At 6 and 12 months, the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-15) and Erection Hardness Score (EHS) were determined with and without IAI, and injection-related penile pain was assessed using a numeric rating scale. Correlations linking penile pain, IIEF-15, and EHS scores were evaluated.

Results.  The mean alprostadil dose was 8.1 µg after 6 months and 9.9 µg after 12 months. With/without IAI, mean IIEF-15 scores for erectile and orgasmic function and mean EHS score were 14.6/4.6, 4.1/2.1, and 2.5/0.4, respectively, after 6 months; and 17.2/5.4, 4.9/2.6, and 2.7/0.9 after 12 months. Pain scores were 3.2 ± 2.5/10 and 2.5 ± 2.5/10 after 6 and 12 months, respectively. Pain intensity correlated with erectile function (r = −0.23), intercourse satisfaction (r = −0.23), and overall satisfaction (r = −0.24) after 6 months but not after 12 months. Follow-up was short and only patients who used IAI for 12 months were included.

Conclusions.  In patients who were willing and able to use IAI, erectile function improved after 1 year but remained below preoperative levels. The adverse impact of pain on SR was significant during the first 6 months and diminished over time. These data may help to counsel IAI users with painful erections. Yiou R, Cunin P, de la Taille A, Salomon L, Binhas M, Lingombet O, Paul M, and Abbou C. Sexual rehabilitation and penile pain associated with intracavernous alprostadil after radical prostatectomy. J Sex Med 2011;8:575–582.