A penile implant is a prosthetic device surgically placed into the corpus cavernosum of the penis. This can be an inflatable implant that can be pumped up to obtain an erection, or a pair of bendable rods. Implants are highly effective and the best solution for patients with severe ED who have failed to respond to non-surgical treatment options, such as, oral medication, intraurethral gel, and injection therapies.
The most common type of penile implant is an inflatable implant consisting of two inflatable cylinders within the penis and a small pump placed in the scrotum in between the testicles. After implantation, the patient’s penis looks natural whether inflated or flaccid. Inflation takes less than a minute. For men with limited dexterity, the best option may be a malleable implant. A malleable implant has two bendable rods that are placed in the penis that are straightened and moved up into position for sexual activity. All implants are entirely concealed in the body. The implant procedure results in a small scar usually hidden by hair or scrotal skin. The erection provided by the implant regardless of model is said to be satisfying for both patients and their partners1, 2. The ability to ejaculate depends on the patient’s ejaculatory function prior to implant surgery or other factors.
Penile implants are not designed to recreate length lost due to untreated erectile dysfunction. However, advances in technique for surgical implantation may preserve penile length and girth. Non-lingering side effects of penile implants include soreness and swelling following the out-patient procedure. As with any surgery, there is also the chance of infection (1-3%)3 , treatable with antibiotics. Implant surgery is non-reversible.
1 Bernal RM, Henry GD. Contemporary patient satisfaction rates for three-piece inflatable penile prostheses. Adv Urol. 2012;2012:707321.
2 Montorsi F, Rigatti P, Carmingnani G, et al. AMS three-piece inflatable implants for erectile dysfunction: a long-term multi-institution study in 200 consecutive patients. Eur Urol. 2000 Jan;37(1):50-5.
3 Carson CC III, Mulcahy JJ, Harsch MR. Long-term infection outcomes after original antibiotic impregnated inflatable penile prosthesis implant: up to 7.7 years of follow-up. J Urol. 2011 Feb;185(2):614-8