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A new treatment option for prostatitis/prostatodynia?

The management of patients with chronic pelvic pain attributed to chronic prostatitis has long been rather unsatisfactory. Even prolonged treatment with an aminoquinolone, such as ciprofloxacin, and an anti-inflammatory agent, or, alternatively an alpha blocker, seldom results in rapid resolution of the symptoms, and is commonly completely ineffective.

We recently encountered a patient, effectively disabled by prostatodynia, unresponsive to standard treatment, who had been taking morphine to control the pain from 2001 – 2008. He was unable to tolerate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics. In 2008 he was prescribed initially 10 mgs, then 20 mgs daily, of the phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor tadalafil, with immediate marked improvement of his symptoms. On cessation of the medication on 4 separate occasions, his symptoms returned; recommencement of treatment each time, with 5 mgs tadalafil daily, has resulted in similar persisting improvement of his symptoms, and he has been able to discontinue treatment with morphine. As a direct consequence of the conversation with this individual we have prescribed tadalafil 5 mgs daily in several of our patients with prostatitis; so far with uniformly beneficial results. Of course, we should point out that this is an off-label indication for this medication.  

However, in addition to the symptom of pelvic pain, many men suffering from chronic abacterial prostatitis/prostatodynia also complain of associated lower urinary tract symptoms and ejaculatory discomfort. Consequently treatment with tadalafil at a dose of 5 mgs per day for a period of time would seem logical. It could be surmised that many of its beneficial effects might stem from an improvement of blood flow to pelvic organs as a consequence of its anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory activity, as well as a relaxant effect on smooth muscle, as has been previously suggested in the case of lower urinary tract symptoms by Karl-Eric Andersson and others.

Clearly the hypothesis that daily treatment with a PDE5 inhibitor might be beneficial in men suffering from the prevalent condition of chronic abacterial prostatitis/prostatodynia needs to be formally tested in the context of a randomized controlled trial. If the results of such a study were to prove positive the quality of life of very many sufferers of this disorder might be significantly improved. One might also speculate that it could provide a concomitant benefit to the partners of these often very unhappy men. 

Roger Kirby, The Prostate Centre
Culley Carson III
, The University of North Carolina
Prokar Dasgupta
The Prostate Centre, Guy’s Hospital, King’s College London

 

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