Neuroprotection and nerve grafts in the treatment of neurogenic erectile dysfunction

Arthur L. Burnett, Irwin Goldstein, William Steers, Tom Lue, Radwin Shabsigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: The rationale for protecting the nerve supply of the penis derives mainly from the fact that neurological injury or disease states involving this organ commonly result in erectile dysfunction. Novel directions in the management of neurogenic erectile dysfunction that pertain specifically to sustaining penile neuronal function are described. Materials and Methods: The review constitutes a summary of neuroprotective strategies for penile erection that are under investigation at the basic science level or have been brought to clinical practice. The basic exercise consisted primarily of a literature search using the National Library of Medicine PubMed Services, with references made to such keywords as nerve grafts, nerve growth factors, neuroprotection and nerve regeneration. Results: Primary advances in this field have centered on repairing structural defects and restoring the functional integrity of the cavernous nerves of the penis. In the former autologous nerve conduits, such as sural nerve grafts, have been explored and used prominently in the context of radical prostatectomy. In the latter diverse neurotrophic treatments have been investigated, with progress mostly limited to animal models of cavernous nerve injury. Basic concepts and ongoing developments in the neurobiology of axonal regeneration were identified as being applicable to this area of neurourology. Conclusions: Because neurogenic origins represent a leading categorical cause of erectile dysfunction, the importance of developing and applying treatment approaches to alleviate neuropathic effects on the erectile tissue of the penis is certain. Medical and surgical innovations for preserving and reconstituting the functional nerve supply of the penis offer great promise in the management of erectile dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S31-S34
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Nerve grafts
  • Nerve growth factors
  • Nerve regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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    Burnett, A. L., Goldstein, I., Steers, W., Lue, T., & Shabsigh, R. (2003). Neuroprotection and nerve grafts in the treatment of neurogenic erectile dysfunction. Journal of Urology, 170(2 II), S31-S34.