Laboratory Forum: Cavernous Nerve Injury Using Rodent Animal Models


Onder Canguven, MD, Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe St. Marburg 414, Baltimore, MD 21287-2411, USA. Tel: (+1) 410 614 3986; Fax: (+1) 410 614 3695; E-mail:


Introduction.  With the advance of the “nerve sparing” technique in radical pelvic surgeries, medically unaided rates of normal erectile function following surgery have improved. Precise determinations of post-surgery erection recovery, however, continue to be problematic and rates of normal erectile function range from 9% to 86%. It is understood that injury to cavernous nerves (CNs) occurs despite modern modifications of the surgery, although the precise pathophysiologic mechanisms of surgical erectile dysfunction are not completely understood.

Aim.  To describe the experimental models of CN injury in small rodents, including both survival surgery (CN injury) and non-survival surgery (monitoring of intracavernosal pressure and arterial blood pressure) models. We also summarize studies on experimental procedures relating to these CN injury models and critique techniques according to their advantages and disadvantages.

Main Outcome Measure.  Data from a peer review literature search on the topic of CN injury in rodent models.

Methods.  A comprehensive review of the literature was performed using PubMed. “Cavernous nerve injury” and “animal model” were used as search terms, and a manual bibliographic review of cross-referenced items was performed.

Results.  Assorted molecular, morphological, and physiological changes are measurable after CN injury in rodent models.

Conclusion.  Various models of CN injury have been applied successfully and offer insights regarding erectile function recovery effects. Canguven O, and Burnett A. Cavernous nerve injury using rodent animal models. J Sex Med 2008;5:1776–1785.