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The Making of Medicine

Can Sound Waves Improve Erectile Dysfunction?

One of our clinical trials is investigating whether pulsed sound waves can address erectile dysfunction by promoting blood vessel growth and tissue repair.

The trial is testing what is called "low-intensity shockwave therapy." In short, an electronic wand, of the kind pictured above, delivers pulsed sound waves directly to the penis. We'll then assess whether the approach helps improve trial participants' erectile dysfunction, as well as whether there are side effects, such as bruising or pain.

“Shockwave therapy is a novel modality in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. However, the patients most likely to benefit, the safety, durability and optimal treatment protocols are largely unknown,” said lead investigator Ryan Smith, MD, of our Department of Urology. “Current treatments for ED don’t address the underlying pathophysiology, but the hope is that shockwave therapy could be potentially restorative, at least to some degree."

Smith's trial is enrolling men ages 30 to 80. Eligible participants include men who have baseline ED, those who have undergone treatment for prostate cancer and have ED, and those planning to undergo prostate cancer treatment and have or are at risk for the condition. (Some men avoid treatment for slow-growing prostate cancers because of its potential effects on their sex lives.)

The trial requires several visits. If any readers are local and interested in participating, they can learn more here.

I'll give you an update on the results once they become available.

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