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BJU Int. 2004 Jan;93(1):9-13.

Cavernosal nerve mapping: current data and applications.

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  • 1Division of Urology, Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Although nerve-sparing prostatectomy is widely practised, the results with respect to preserving potency often do not meet expectations. The concept of intraoperative cavernosal nerve stimulation is reasonable. Data that link the response to sildenafil after prostatectomy with bilateral nerve sparing has increased the importance of optimizing nerve sparing. The cavernosal nerves are often difficult to visualize and may have a variable course. A tumescent response to nerve stimulation can be shown consistently; the response may be subtle, and characterized by a minimal increase in penile circumference and blood flow. Immediately after prostatectomy, proximal nerve stimulation identifies whether neural continuity has been maintained, and is predictive of recovery of erectile function. The Cavermap system (Uromed Corporation, Boston, MA, USA) was developed to permit intraoperative nerve stimulation with tumescence monitoring. An initial phase 2 and subsequent phase 3 single-blinded, randomized, multicentre study that compared Cavermap-assisted prostatectomy with conventional nerve sparing showed a significant benefit in terms of the duration of nocturnal tumescence at 1 year. Other approaches are being explored, including incorporating the device into sural or genito-femoral nerve grafting, use of nerve stimulation during cystectomy or abdominal-perineal resection, and direct corpus cavernosal pressure monitoring during nerve stimulation. These approaches warrant further evaluation.

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