Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Transcutaneous application of low-frequency electric current in the treatment of partially or temporarily denervated striated muscles is widely used to prevent or treat muscular atrophy. Due to the high regenerative capacity of smooth-muscle cells, this approach should be beneficial in the treatment of diseases with smooth-muscle degeneration due to partial denervation. Our study was done to evaluate the possible beneficial effect of transcutaneously applied low-frequency electric current on the corpus cavernosum penis in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. After a comprehensive workup, 21 patients with chronic erectile dysfunction (20/21 vasoactive nonresponders) received daily (3–5×20 min) transcutaneous functional electromyostimulation of the corpus cavernosum smooth muscles [FEMCC; zero-line symmetric impulses of trapezoid shape, 2-channel device with alternating stimulations; frequency (f), 10–20 Hz for channel I and 20–35 Hz for channel II; impulse duration (t i ), 100–150 μs; approx. 12 mA; rise time, 0.5 s; stimulation time, 5 s/channel; pause between stimulations, 0.5 s. In all, 4/21 patients (19%) regained full spontaneous erections and another 3/21 (14%) responded to vasoactive drugs after FEMCC. Overall, 14/21 were FEMCC failures, including 2 who subjectively “improved.” In a similar group of patients who were evaluated during the same period but received no therapy, no spontaneous improvement in erectile functïon was observed. Our preliminary findings suggest that FEMCC is feasible and results in an improvement in erectile capacity in a significant number (33%) of patients. Further studies will be carried out to corroborate our results, to improve the stimulation parameters, and to evaluate the selection criteria for patients suitable for FEMCC.
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