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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Overactive corpus cavernosum: a novel cause of erectile dysfunction.

Our recording of the electromyographic (EMG) activity of the corpus cavernosum (CC) in 59 patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) revealed 18 patients who had elevated electric activity, which presumably points to heightened tone of the CC smooth muscles. We investigated the hypothesis that this elevated EMG activity and muscular tone of the CC could be the cause of ED. The study comprised the said 18 subjects with the hypertonic CC muscles as study group (42.6 +/- 5.3 SD years), 15 healthy volunteers (41.8 +/- 5.1 SD years) and 15 patients (41.6 +/- 5.5 SD years) with ED who had not recorded elevated tone of the CC muscles as control group. The EMG activity was registered in the flaccid, erectile and detumescent phases by two electrodes inserted into the CC. Electrocavernosography (ECG) of healthy volunteers recorded in the flaccid phase showed regular slow waves (SW) and random action potentials (APs). The wave variables declined significantly in the erection phase (P < 0.01). In the study group, the SW variables in the flaccid phase increased significantly (P < 0.05) compared with the healthy volunteers and the rhythm was irregular. Erection did not occur with sildenafil but with intracavernosal injection of papaverine, which led to decline of the SW variables (P < 0.05). The control ED group exhibited in the flaccid phase diminished SW variables (P < 0.05) compared with the healthy volunteers. On erection with sildenafil administration, the SW variables showed significant reduction (P < 0.05). CC hypertonicity or 'overactive CC' was identified as a possible cause of ED. An elevated EMG activity of the CC muscle fibres in the flaccid phase presumably denotes hypertonicity of these fibres and their failure to relax to effect erection. The cause of elevated CCEMG activity and presumed muscle hypertonicity is unknown and could be functional or organic. Erection was produced by intracavernosus injection of papaverine and not by sildenafil. This condition of 'overactive CC' should be considered in the diagnosis of ED. However, further studies in the pathogenesis of the condition are warranted.[1]


  1. Overactive corpus cavernosum: a novel cause of erectile dysfunction. Shafik, A., Shafik, I., El-Sibai, O., Shafik, A.A. Andrologia (2004) [Pubmed]
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