” as reported in a study by James Weinberger, MD, MBA, Sriram V. Eleswarapu, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “
Researchers and healthcare professionals have been investigating the potential of SWT to treat ED in clinical trials. Results have been positive, but researchers don’t yet know how long treatment results last or what percentage of men take advantage of this option.
In this type of treatment, targeted sound waves are used with the aim of improving blood flow and decreasing ED in grown-up men.
Dr. Weinberger, Ellsworth and colleagues analyzed data from 140 clinics advertised by SWT for ED treatment in eight major US cities for men. Using the “secret shopper” approach, the researchers made phone calls to gather information about the credentials and training of providers doing SWT and the pricing, duration, and protocol for SWT treatments.
Only 25% of the clinics offered by SWT are urologists – specialists in the treatment of reproductive problems particularly in men. Other specialists in SWT treatment include dermatologists, chiropractors, and obstetricians/gynecologists. Non-physicians such as physician assistants or nurse practitioners performed SWT in 13% of clinics.
Based on information from 99 clinics, the average cost of a SWT treatment is approximately $490 and the total cost of treatment is $3,400. Prices for clinics in different metropolitan areas vary considerably.
The most commonly recommended number of SWT treatments is six. However, there is no standardized approach to SWT treatment for ED. The researchers had advised, “[T]he number of shocks per session, type of device used, and frequency settings varied widely.“
There is a growing interest in SWT and other regenerative therapies that seek to “cure” ED for men rather than treating it. Although some initial data support this research, there is no high-quality evidence supporting the widespread use of SWT (or other therapies such as plasma-rich protein or stem cell injection) for ED treatment.
In the absence of clinical trials showing its long-term effectiveness, SWT for ED treatment in men is not approved by the FDA and is not covered by insurance. In its guidelines for the treatment of ED, the AUA refers to SWT as a “investigational” treatment that should be limited to research experiments.
Drs. Weinberger, Eleswarapu, and colleagues said, “Our results show that real-world practice does not adhere to these recommendations.” They believe that patients exploring treatment for ED in men “should be evaluated by urologists who are equipped to conduct a formal men’s health evaluation and provide a data-driven and patient-centric discussion of treatment options.“