ASK DR.K: Sounds Good to Me

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Dear Dr. K, Can you explain Acoustic Wave Therapy?

Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT) or Low intensity Shock Wave Therapy (Li-SWT) is a direct descendant of the technology that has been used for over three decades to treat kidney stones without surgery. The machine used for kidney stones delivers pulsed sound waves to the stone. The probe is placed externally and is aimed at the stone using x-ray guidance. The sound wave hits the stone and pulverizes it into fragments that are passed in the urine.

In Li-SWT the energy of the sound wave is reduced substantially since it only needs to penetrate a short depth through soft tissue. The probe is applied externally to the penis and surrounding tissue (except the testicles), specifically targeting the arteries to the penile shaft and base. The sound waves break up any plaque that has formed in the vessels. The fragments of the plaque are carried away from the area in the bloodstream and are excreted from the body. These are miniscule fragments and do not pose a problem of lodging in some other vessel.

A second benefit from Li-SWT is neovascularization or new blood vessel growth. This was discovered in animal testing conducted during the development of this technology. At the microscopic level the sound waves cause microtrauma to the tissue. The cells respond to this injury by releasing several enzymes and chemicals. One of these chemicals is vascular growth factor. This causes the growth of new blood vessels in the treated area. These new vessels bring increased bloodflow to the penis and persist after the conclusion of the therapy. Thus, not only does Li-SWT open the blood vessels in the penis but also there are new blood vessels that supply more blood to the tissue. The increased blood supply encourages tissue repair and growth.

How is Li-SWT done?

Li-SWT is performed in the office. It does not require anesthesia. A topical conductive gel is applied to the penis to improve the effectiveness of the treatment. There is mild discomfort from the sound waves, but it is not unreasonably uncomfortable. (A lot less painful than a tattoo.) The session lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. After the session, you can return to your normal activities. There is no down time or restriction on activity. The procedure is non-invasive and does involve injections or incisions. This treatment has minimal risks and side effects. There may be some mild redness of the skin afterwards, but this resolves soon after the session. Very rarely there may be some bruising, most commonly if you are taking a blood thinner.

Generally, 6 to 12 treatments are necessary. These are usually spaced a week apart. You will evaluated during the course of your treatment and modifications may be made to achieve the best results for you.

The beneficial effects of Li-SWT are improved erectile function, increased stimulation and improved satisfaction. These effects may be experienced after as few as 6 treatments.

Li-SWT has been clinically proven and has been cleared by the FDA. It does not have the risks, complications and discomfort of pills, needles, and surgery.

There are currently no absolute contraindications to Li-SWT. But men who have had prostate cancer, other pelvic cancers, pelvic irradiation or deep vein thrombosis should have a clinical evaluation to determine if they are appropriate candidates for the treatment. Some medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and surgeries can affect the effectiveness of the treatment. A review of your medical history and a physical examination will be done prior to beginning treatment.

The staff and physicians of Renewal Medical Centers of North Texas are available to provide further information and answer any questions you may have about Acoustic Wave Therapy and Erectile Dysfunction.