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Shock Treatment Helps Peyronie's Disease

Medically Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD
From the WebMD Archives

May 15, 2002 -- A shock treatment commonly used to blast kidney stones and other calcium deposits into pieces may provide relief to men who suffer from a hard-to-treat penile condition. A new study shows shock wave therapy can effectively reduce pain on erection and improve penile angle for men with Peyronie's disease.

Peyronie's disease is a disorder in which a portion of the sheath of connective tissue within the penis thickens and becomes calcified. It causes the penis to bend at an angle during erection and can make intercourse painful or difficult. The exact cause is unknown, and it usually affects men over 40.

Patients with Peyronie's may be initially treated with steroid drugs. If the condition worsens, surgery may be required to remove the thickened area, but there are drawbacks.

In the study, researchers at the Hôpital Foch in Suresnes, France, investigated a technique called extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), commonly used to split and break up kidney stones, to treat 54 men with Peyronie's.

Of the 35 patients that had pain on erection, 91% noticed relief immediately after treatment. Twenty-nine patients (54%) noticed an improvement in penile angle, and 25 thought the plaque had been smoothed by the procedure. Overall, 61% of patients said their condition had improved after the therapy. Only 9 patients (16%) thought it was inadequate and went on to surgery.

"On the basis of these results, we conclude that ESWT could become a valuable tool in the therapeutic arsenal to successfully treat Peyronie's disease," write the authors in their study, which is published in the current issue Urology.