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Keywords:

  • Erection;
  • Impotence;
  • Smooth Muscle;
  • Corpora Cavernosa;
  • Electromyography;
  • Slow Waves;
  • Action Potentials

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  It is claimed that the tunica albuginea (TA) shares in the erectile mechanism by compressing the emissary veins passing through it. However, the TA does not contain smooth muscle fibers.

Aim.  We investigated the hypothesis that TA lacks a contractile activity on the emissary veins passing through it.

Methods.  Fourteen healthy male volunteers (mean age 35.2 ± 4.3 years) were studied. The electromyographic (EMG) activity of the TA and corpora cavernosa (CC) was individually recorded in the flaccid and erectile phases by EMG needle electrodes. Recording was performed in the upper, middle, and lower third of the TA and CC on one and then on the contralateral side.

Main Outcome Measures.  The TA lacks a contractile activity on the emissary veins passing through it.

Results.  The EMG of the CC in the flaccid phase recorded regular slow waves and random action potentials. The wave variables in the erectile phase exhibited a significant decrease (P < 0.01) compared with the variables in the flaccid phase of the same subject. The TA EMG showed no electric waves in the flaccid or erectile phases. These recordings were similar from the upper-, middle-, and lower-third of the penis, and were reproducible from the contralateral CC.

Conclusions.  Electric waves were recorded from the CC in the flaccid phase; wave variables decreased at erection. In contrast, the TA showed no electric waves in the flaccid or erectile phases. It appears that the TA acts as a CC covering sheet which expands passively at erection, and shares in compressing the subtunical venular plexus between it and the tumescent CC. Shafik A, Shafik AI, El Sibai O, and Shafik AA. Electrophysiologic activity of the tunica albuginea and corpora cavernosa: Possible role of tunica albuginea in the erectile mechanism. J Sex Med 2007;4:675–679.