You may have an ultrasound done of your penis. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to make pictures of structures inside your body. The pictures can show the location and amount of scar tissue you have if present. An ultrasound can also show how well blood flows through your penis during an erection.
Why it's done
You may be recommended to have a penile ultrasound if you have penile curvature, abnormal bumps within the penis, issues with obtaining and maintaining erections, or other problems with the penis. The most common conditions where an ultrasound is recommended include erectile dysfunction (difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection satisfactory for intercourse) and Peyronie's disease (penile curvature).
Before the procedure
Before the penile ultrasound, you'll be asked to undress from the waist down. You'll also be asked to lie on your back on an exam table.
During the procedure
A men's health provider usually performs the penile ultrasound. The technician applies a small amount of warm gel to your penis. The gel works with the ultrasound device, called a transducer, to provide better images.
First, a nurse will obtain measurements of the non-erect (flaccid) penis. In some instances, the performing clinician will use the ultrasound probe to visualize the anatomy of the flaccid penis. This is done by gently pressing the ultrasound transducer (probe) against the penis. The device sends signals to a computer, which creates images that show the anatomy of the penis and how blood flows through the penis. Next, the nurse injects medicine into the side of the penis. This can cause minor pain, typically rated 0-3 on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is no pain and 10 is very severe pain. Many men say that the anticipation is far worse than the actual discomfort from the injection itself. It's important to pay attention to the penile injection process including the pain experienced and the quality of the erection. This may help determine if penile injections could be used as a potential long term solution to treat erectile dysfunction (if applicable). Over the next several minutes, you're left alone as the medication takes effect. The goal is to achieve an erection as good as or better than one you could obtain at home. Penile injections may be repeated if the erection isn't strong enough.
After achieving an adequate erection, the performing provider will perform the ultrasound examination of the erect penis by gently pressing the transducer against the penis. These images are used to assess the anatomy of the penis and how blood flows through the penis during an erection. At this point, penile curvature or deformity will be assessed along with other penile measurements. These readings may help determine the underlying cause of ED if present.
A typical ultrasound exam takes about 45 minutes to complete.
After the procedure
You should be able to return to normal activities immediately after the erection subsides. You're not allowed to leave the clinic until this occurs. It is recommended that you avoid sexual activity within 24 hours of the ultrasound.
Side effects can include mild bleeding or bruising in the area of the injection, prolonged erection (priapism) and, rarely, formation of fibrous tissue at the injection site. In many instances, the performing clinician will recommend a dose of oral medication (Sudafed) or another type of injection into the penis called phenylephrine, which is the medication that was originally administered to cause the erection. The purpose of these medications are to prevent you from having a prolonged erection after leaving the office that could cause significant discomfort or injury to the penis if not addressed. If this fails, a minor office procedure may need to be performed to help resolve the erection. This is rarely necessary, and your clinician will discuss this with you at the time of the procedure if necessary.
For more information about penile ultrasound for the evaluation of erectile dysfunction, please see minute 13:25 of the following video:
For more information about penile ultrasound for the evaluation of Peyronie's Disease, please see minute 1:55 of the following video: