On the pathogenesis of penile venous leakage: role of the tunica albuginea

BMC Urol. 2007 Sep 5;7:14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2490-7-14.


Background: Etiology of venogenic erectile dysfunction is not exactly known. Various pathologic processes were accused but none proved entirely satisfactory. These include presence of large venous channels draining corpora cavernosa, Peyronie's disease, diabetes and structural alterations in fibroblastic components of trabeculae and cavernous smooth muscles. We investigated hypothesis that tunica albuginea atrophy with a resulting subluxation and redundancy effects venous leakage during erection.

Methods: 18 patients (mean age 33.6 +/- 2.8 SD years) with venogenic erectile dysfunction and 17 volunteers for control (mean age 31.7 +/- 2.2 SD years) were studied. Intracorporal pressure was recorded in all subjects; tunica albuginea biopsies were taken from 18 patients and 9 controls and stained with hematoxylin and eosin and Masson's trichrome stains.

Results: In flaccid phase intracorporal pressure recorded a mean of 11.8 +/- 0.8 cm H2O for control subjects and for patients of 5.2 +/- 0.6 cm, while during induced erection recorded 98.4 +/- 6.2 and 5.9 +/- 0.7 cmH2O, respectively. Microscopically, tunica albuginea of controls consisted of circularly-oriented collagen impregnated with elastic fibers. Tunica albuginea of patients showed degenerative and atrophic changes of collagen fibers; elastic fibers were scarce or absent.

Conclusion: Study has shown that during erection intracorporal pressure of patients with venogenic erectile dysfunction was significantly lower than that of controls. Tunica albuginea collagen fibers exhibited degenerative and atrophic changes which presumably lead to tunica albuginea subluxation and floppiness. These tunica albuginea changes seem to explain cause of lowered intracorporal pressure which apparently results from loss of tunica albuginea veno-occlusive mechanism. Causes of tunica albuginea atrophic changes and subluxation need to be studied.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Erectile Dysfunction / pathology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / pathology*
  • Impotence, Vasculogenic / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Penis / blood supply
  • Penis / pathology*
  • Penis / physiopathology*
  • Venous Insufficiency / pathology*
  • Venous Insufficiency / physiopathology*