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BMC Urol. 2019 Oct 7;19(1):89. doi: 10.1186/s12894-019-0516-y.

Adherence and barriers to penile rehabilitation over 2 years following radical prostatectomy.

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Northshore University HealthSystem, Evanston, IL, USA.
University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, USA.
Northshore University HealthSystem, Evanston, IL, USA.



A variety of penile rehabilitation (PR) therapies are available to improve post-prostatectomy erectile dysfunction (ED) with mixed results. It is uncertain how adherent men are to PR therapies. The aim of this study is to determine adherence to and identify barriers to PR treatment.


A longitudinal cross-sectional approach was used in men who underwent radical prostatectomy over 2 years. Men were instructed to take a PDE5 inhibitor (PDE5i) three times per week, and if required, utilize a vacuum constriction device (VCD) daily. Outcomes were measured by multiple validated questionnaires. In addition, penile stretched length, side effects, compliance to PR regimen & barriers to participation were documented.


Seventy-seven patients were enrolled, however only 49 completed evaluation at 3 or more timepoints and were included in analysis. This cohort was an average age of 58.1 years (±7.7), had robotic laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (91.7%), and had bilateral nerve sparing procedures (95.8%). Majority (62.5%) reported normal SHIM pre-operatively, however 79% used PDE5i. Erectile function as measured by IIEF and Erection Hardness Rating were negatively affected post-operatively, with gradual improvement in parameters throughout the 24 month follow up. Of the participants who had normal pre-op SHIM, only 23.1 and 28.6% regained baseline function at 1 and 2 years, respectively. Orgasm was significantly diminished immediately post-operatively, however, at the end of the study period only 37% of men reported diminished climax and no men reported absent orgasm. Adherence to penile rehabilitation therapies declined overtime. Men took oral PDE5i on average 2.3 times weekly at 12 and 24 months (p < 0.001). Men used the VCD 2.3-3.9 days a week, which declined overtime (p = 0.014).


Improvement in erectile and orgasm parameters was observed over time, but most men did not return to baseline function. Despite comprehensive instructions and a frequent follow up schedule, PDE5i and VCD adherence was poor. High attrition rates were noted with only 55.8% of men remaining at 12 months and 45% of men completing 24 months. The most common barriers to PR adherence were cost, inconvenience and perceived ineffectiveness.


Adherence; Erectile dysfunction; Penile rehabilitation; Radical prostatectomy

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