Evoked cavernous activity: measuring penile autonomic innervation following pelvic surgery

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To assess cavernous nerve integrity, we measured evoked cavernous activity (ECA) in 16 men who underwent nerve sparing radical prostatectomy (NS group) and 11 men who underwent non-nerve-sparing surgery (non-NS group). The right median nerve was electrically stimulated and ECA was recorded with two concentric electromyography needles placed into the right and left cavernous bodies. We simultaneously recorded hand and foot sympathetic skin responses (SSRs) as controls. All subjects had recordable SSR, and all subjects following nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy had reproducible ECA. Of the 11 non-NS subjects, eight had no response, indicating interrupted corporal innervation. Three subjects had reproducible ECA, one of whom had a very late latency, suggesting residual innervation was present. The mean latencies of ECA were similar to foot SSR mean latencies (P>0.05), but not to hand SSR latencies. The non-NS group was significantly different from the NS group for the presence of ECA (P<0.001). ECA is a viable method of evaluating the autonomic innervation of the penis.

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