Epidemiology of current treatment for sexual dysfunction in spinal cord injured men in the USA model spinal cord injury centers

Toyohiko Watanabe, Michael B. Chancellor, David A. Rivas, Irvin H. Hirsch, Carol J. Bennett, Michael V. Finocchiaro, Salman Razi, James K. Bennett, Bruce G. Green, Jenelle E. Foote, R. Wylly Killorian, Saad Juma, Todd A. Linsenmeyer, Keith Lloyd

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28 Citations (Scopus)


This study is a prospective multicenter cooperative survey of the evaluation and treatment of erectile dysfunction in men with spinal cord injury (SCI). Uniform database questionnaires were completed prospectively by patients seeking therapy for erectile dysfunction. Eighty-five SCI men aged 17-68 years (mean age=26±17) were enrolled. Mean duration of traumatic SCI was 3±3.2 years (Range=0.3-18 years). The level of injury was cervical in 20 patients, thoracic in 31, lumbar in 29 and sacral in five. Patients were fully evaluated and then counseled as to their therapeutic options. Twenty-eight chose to use a vacuum erection device (VED), 26 preferred pharmacological penile injection and five used both intracorporeal therapy and VED. The remainder were managed with marriage and sexual counseling in 10 patients, three underwent penile prosthesis placement and two used topical pharmacotherapy. Four patients used other forms of treatment and in nine no therapy was recommended. Of the patients that used pharmacologic injection only, 74 percent used papaverine as a single agent, 20 percent used papaverine with phentolamine, five percent used prostaglandin E (PGE1) alone and one percent used a mixture. Patients using injection therapy report sexual intercourse a mean of 3±3.4 times per month as compared with 5±3.2 times per month in those using VED. Five intracorporeal injection patients developed priapism while two patients using the VED developed subcutaneous bleeding and one developed penile ischemia. We conclude that although a spectrum of erectile dysfunction treatment is present among SCI centers, VED and pharmacological penile injection are by far the two most popular methods of treatment and papaverine is the most common drug. The incidence of complications is small in the model centers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-189
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Erection
  • Impotence
  • Papaverine
  • Priapism
  • Prostaglandin
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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