Background and Purpose: Laser stimulation of the rat cavernous nerve (CN) recently has been demonstrated as an alternative to electrical stimulation for potential application in nerve mapping during nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. Advantages include noncontact stimulation and improved spatial selectivity. Previous studies, however, have used large and/or expensive laser sources for stimulation. This study demonstrates the feasibility of optical stimulation of the rat CN, in vivo, using a compact, inexpensive all-single-mode fiberoptic system. Materials and Methods: A 1455-nm wavelength infrared diode laser beam was coupled into a 9-μm-core single-mode fiber for delivery through a 10F laparoscopic probe and used for laser stimulation of the CN in a total of eight rats, in vivo. Results: Laser stimulation of the CN was observed at threshold temperatures of ∼41°C, with intracavernous pressure response times as short as 4 s, and magnitudes up to 50 mm Hg, compared with baselines of 10 mm Hg. Conclusion: This novel, all-single-mode-fiber laser nerve stimulation system introduces several advantages including: (1) lower cost laser; (2) more robust fiberoptic design, eliminating alignment and cleaning of bulk optical components; and (3) improved Gaussian spatial beam profile for simplified alignment of the laser beam with the nerve. With further development, laser nerve stimulation may be useful for identification and preservation of the CN during prostate cancer surgery.
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