This week the American Urological Association (AUA) released a new clinical guideline for diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction.
The Urology Care Podcast interviewed Arthur L. Burnett, MD, chair of the guideline development panel and urologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore about the guideline. Dr. Burnett spoke about what patients should know and how the guideline may impact them.
Listen to the entire podcast with Dr. Burnett.
What is a Guideline?
The interview began with Dr. Burnett providing the definition of a guideline. A clinical guideline is a document developed by a panel of experts who review all available information and make recommendations accordingly. These recommendations help guide health care providers in optimizing the care of patients. A guideline is not an absolute or inflexible way to care for a patient. This is because there are exceptions and special cases in regards to what is best for the individual patient.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is when it is hard to get or keep an erection that's firm enough for sex. Most men have problems with erections from time to time. But when this happens more than half of the time, then ED is present. ED can happen when health problems limit blood flow or damage nerves in the penis. ED may be a warning sign of other hidden and more serious medical conditions, like heart disease.
What's the New Guideline mean?
The new guideline makes 25 recommendations in total, including the recommendation that testosterone levels be measured in men who present with symptoms of ED, men be counseled that ED is a risk marker for underlying heart disease and the importance of discussing the risks and benefits associated with different treatment options.
Once diagnosed, men are often presented with several treatment options. As such, the AUA guideline panel strongly suggests physicians and patients engage in a shared-decision making process to select the best care option for each individual patient.
Dr. Burnett said that patients may have different values and preferences with how they view their sexual function. As part of shared-decision making the patient should be an active-participant in helping find what is most appropriate and effective as treatment.
Other patient education resources on erectile dysfunction include: