• Erectile Dysfunction;
  • Penile Color Doppler Ultrasound;
  • Cavernous Artery;
  • Intima-Media Thickness


Introduction.  A precise characterization of erectile dysfunction (ED) of vascular origin has not yet been achieved. Although cavernous peak systolic velocity (PSV) is generally considered a major parameter, it has many false positives and negatives because of anatomic variations of the cavernous artery course, challenging site of sampling, insufficient caracterization of an early phase of vascular disease, and significant influence of adrenergic tone.

Aim.  We performed a high magnification ultrasonographic study in order to compare functional and morphological parameters of the cavernous artery to PSV and their relation with penile and systemic atherosclerosis.

Methods.  A total of 109 subjects (84 ED patients and 25 controls) evaluated in our andrological center from March 2007 to January 2008 were enrolled in the study.

Main Outcome Measures.  All subjects underwent medical history, erectile function domain of the International Index of Erectile Function, physical examination, routine and sex hormone blood tests, and high resolution echo color doppler evaluation of carotid, femoral and penile districts (acceleration time, intima media thickness [IMT], intima adventitia thickness, caliper before and after intracavernous alprostadil injection [Δ-cavernous calliper]).

Results.  Cavernous parameters were significantly different between ED and controls. Multivariate model showed that IMT was the only predicting parameter for ED of vascular origin. Cavernous IMT showed a strong direct correlation with carotid and femoral IMT. ED patients with two or more cardiovascular risk factors had a significantly higher cavernous IMT.

Conclusions.  An increased cavernous IMT (≥0.3 mm) might predict ED of vascular origin with more accuracy than PSV and could be a sensitive predictor also for systemic atherosclerosis at an earlier phase. Caretta N, Palego P, Schipilliti M, Ferlin A, Di Mambro A, and Foresta C. Cavernous artery intima-media thickness: A new parameter in the diagnosis of vascular erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.