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Surgical Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction (cont.)

Semirigid or Malleable Rod Implants for Erectile Dysfunction

With the semirigid or malleable rod implant, 2 matching cylinders are surgically implanted into the penis. To achieve an erection, you manually adjust the position of the penis. This implant provides enough rigidity for penetration and rarely breaks.

Advantages of the semirigid or malleable rod implant include:

  • Simple surgery
  • Relatively few complications
  • No moving parts
  • Least expensive implant
  • 70-80% success rate
  • Highly effective

The major drawbacks of the semirigid or malleable rod implant are:

  • Cosmetic appearance of the penis
  • Need for surgery
  • Destruction of the natural erectile mechanism when the device is implanted

Other disadvantages of the semirigid or malleable rod implant include:

  • Constant erection at all times
  • May be difficult to conceal
  • Does not increase the width of the penis
  • Risk of infection
  • Permanently alters or may injure erection bodies
  • Most likely implant to cause pain or erode through the skin
  • If unsuccessful, interferes with other treatments

Inflatable Implants for Erectile Dysfunction

The inflatable implant consists of:

  • Two cylinders, surgically inserted into the penis
  • A pump, placed in the scrotum
  • A reservoir, contained either within the cylinders or in a separate reservoir placed beneath the tissue of the lower abdomen

With an inflatable implant, you squeeze the pump placed within the scrotum to inflate the cylinders. The pump moves fluid from the reservoir implanted in the lower abdomen to the cylinders implanted in the penis. The expansion of these cylinders creates an erection.

The inflatable implant generally remains functional for 7-10 years before a replacement typically is necessary. Most, if not all, companies offer lifetime warranties for both the parts and the components of these devices.

Although effective, some overall complications of the inflatable implant include:

  • Infections
  • Device malfunctions
  • Erosion of the device through the urethra or the skin
  • Painful erections

Two types of inflatable implants are available: a fully inflatable implant and a self-contained inflatable unitary implant.

Fully Inflatable Implants

  • Advantages of a fully inflatable implant include:
    • Mimics the natural process of rigidity-flaccidity
    • User controls the state of erection
    • Natural appearance
    • No concealment problems
    • Increases the width of the penis when activated
    • 70-80% success rate
    • Highly effective
  • Disadvantages of a fully inflatable implant include:
    • Relatively high rate of mechanical failure
    • Risk of infection
    • Most expensive implant
    • Permanently alters or may injure erection bodies
    • If unsuccessful, interferes with other treatments

Self-Contained Inflatable Unitary Implants

  • Advantages of a self-contained inflatable unitary implant are:
    • Mimics the natural process of rigidity-flaccidity
    • User controls the state of erection
    • Natural appearance
    • No concealment problems
    • Simpler surgery than the fully inflatable implant
    • 70-80% success rate
    • Highly effective
  • Disadvantages of a self-contained inflatable unitary implant include:
    • Sometimes difficult to activate this type of implant
    • Does not increase the width of the penis
    • Possible mechanical breakdowns
    • Risk of infection
    • Relatively expensive
    • Permanently alters or may injure erection bodies
    • If unsuccessful, interferes with other treatments
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/18/2016
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