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Erectile dysfunction: a global review of intracavernosal injectables



Data assessing the effectiveness of intracavernosal injections (ICIs) for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) are limited. This study evaluates intracavernosal injectable therapies for ED and reviews available guidelines that inform clinical practice.


A systematic search using electronic databases (Medline, Pubmed) was performed for studies investigating injectable management strategies for ED published after 1990. Primary outcome measures were to comparatively evaluate clinical efficacy, continuation rates and adverse event profiles of each injectable agent as monotherapy or in combination. The secondary outcome measurement was to discuss available guidelines that inform clinical practice for injectable agents.


ICIs demonstrate clinical efficacy in 54–100% of patients, early discontinuation rates of ≤ 38% and adverse events in ≤ 26%. Discontinuation rates are typically greatest within 3–6 months of commencement. Anxiety related to the initial injection occurs in approximately 65% and anxiety levels can remain high for 4 months. Approval of intracavernosal injection agents is mainly limited to alprostadil with the recent addition of aviptadil/phentolamine combination therapy in a select few geographical regions. Although combination therapies are attractive alternative options, their formulations are variable and should be standardised before widespread acceptance is achieved.


ICIs are associated with good clinical efficacy rates, high discontinuation rates and a moderate side-effect profile. They represent an important tool in the urological armamentarium for treating ED in patients that cannot tolerate or are refractory to oral therapies.

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American Urology Association


British Society of Sexual Medicine


Cyclic adenosine monophosphate


Cyclic guanosine monophosphate


European Association of Urology


Erectile dysfunction


Food and Drug Authority, USA


Intracavernosal injection


Japanese Society of Sexual Medicine


Korean Society of Sexual Medicine


Phosphodiesterase type 5


Prostaglandin 1


Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia


Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide


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Authors and Affiliations



CD: Project development, data collection, data analysis, manuscript writing & revision. JGO: Project development, data collection, data analysis. JT: data analysis, manuscript writing & revision. NFD: manuscript writing and editing. DMB: Project development, manuscript editing. NL: Project development, data collection, manuscript editing

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Correspondence to Nathan Lawrentschuk.

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Duncan, C., Omran, G.J., Teh, J. et al. Erectile dysfunction: a global review of intracavernosal injectables. World J Urol 37, 1007–1014 (2019).

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  • Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Intracavernosal injections
  • Treatment of erectile dysfunction
  • Treatment of ED