Intracavernosal Injection for the Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction: A Review

Daniel Belew, Zachary Klaassen, Ronald W. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Introduction: Intracavernosal injection (ICI) of a vasoactive agent has been an important part of the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) since its initial description by Virag in 1982. Aim: To review the literature and summarize the use of ICI and its role in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of ED. Methods: Literature review. Main Outcome Measure: To define the role of ICI's utility in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of ED. Results: When used in conjunction with color penile Doppler ultrasound for ED evaluation and diagnosis, ICI helps to detect penile vascular abnormalities and allows for differentiation between the multiple vasculogenic causes of impotence, thus helping clinicians to select the optimal treatment modality for each patient. Patients utilizing ICI continue to report high efficacy and satisfaction rates relative to other treatment options despite ICI's designation as a second-line therapy since the introduction of oral phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors in 1998. In recent years, ICI has also become an important part of penile rehabilitation programs following radical prostatectomy, as regular use of ICI is thought to increase the rate at which patients experience return of spontaneous erection through preservation of penile tissue integrity and prevention of corporeal smooth muscle atrophy. Conclusions: ICI of vasoactive agents remains an important tool in treating and diagnosing ED, with high patient satisfaction and efficacy rates. However, the dropout rate for ICI therapy remains relatively high, and it may be associated with priapism, ecchymoses, hematoma formation, and penile fibrosis. Patients should be educated on the benefits and limitations of ICI therapy prior to beginning treatment in order to minimize dropout rates. Additional studies are necessary to better understand the possible long-term benefits of ICI therapy and how to most effectively structure the penile rehabilitation program after radical prostatectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalSexual Medicine Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Intracavernosal Injection
  • Penile Doppler Ultrasound
  • Radical Prostatectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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