Penile prostheses are semi-rigid or inflatable devices that are implanted into penises to alleviate impotence.
The penis is composed of one channel for urine and semen, and three compartments with tough, fibrous walls containing erectile tissue. With appropriate stimulation, the blood vessels that lead out of these compartments constrict, trapping blood. Blood pressure fills and hardens the compartments producing an erection of sufficient firmness to perform sexual intercourse. Additional stimulation leads to ejaculation, where semen is pumped out of the urethra. When this system fails, erectile dysfunction or impotence (failure to create and maintain an erection) occurs.
Impotence can be caused by a number of conditions, including diabetes, spinal cord injury, prolonged drug abuse, and removal of the prostate gland. If the medical condition is irreversible, a penile prosthesis may be considered. Men whose impotence is caused by psychological problems are not recommended for implant surgery.
Recently, it has been reported that surgeons insert approximately 20,000 penile implants into American
men yearly. The most common device is a multi-component inflatable implant (approximately 45% of all implants). Semi-rigid rods account for about 35% of the implants. Self-contained devices comprise approximately 20% of implants.
L. Fleming Fallon Jr., M.D., Dr.PH., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,