What is the role of biothesiometry in the evaluation of erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Updated: Aug 08, 2018
  • Author: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Answer

The sensitivity of the skin of the penis to detect vibrational stimuli (ie, biothesiometry) can be employed as a simple nerve function office screening test, but it is infrequently indicated. In this test, a small electromagnetic test probe is placed on the right and left sides of the penile shaft and on the glans. The vibrational amplitude is adjusted until the subjective sensory threshold is reached, which is determined by questioning the patient (see the image below).

The presence of normal skin sensation adequate to The presence of normal skin sensation adequate to produce an erection is measured with this device.

A series of these tests determines the average vibrational sensory threshold in each location; these thresholds are then compared with reference range standards for the patient’s age group. Although this test does not directly measure erectile nerve function, it serves as a reasonable means of screening for possible sensory deficit and is simple to perform. Formal nerve conduction studies (eg, bulbocavernosus reflex latency time) are reserved for very specific situations.


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