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Is penile atherosclerosis the link between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular risk? An autopsy study


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is increasingly linked to coronary heart disease risk. Aim of this study was to test the hypothesis whether this association is due to penile atherosclerosis. We evaluated the prevalence and severity of penile atherosclerosis in relation to coronary and peripheral atherosclerosis. Between January and June 2010, a consecutive series of 31 men underwent an autopsy at the Department of Pathology at the Medical University Vienna. Atherosclerosis at the following localizations were histologically classified: right coronary artery, left coronary artery, left circumflex artery, internal iliac artery, dorsal penile artery and deep penile artery (bilateral). Coronary and peripheral atherosclerosis was present in 87.1 and 77.4% of cases. Atherosclerosis of penile arteries was detectable in only 4 men (12.9%). The only factor linked to penile atherosclerosis was diabetes (P=0.03). All other parameters as assessed according to medical history, general finding from autopsy or histological results regarding arterial lesions in general were not correlated to penile arterial lesions. In contrast to the high prevalence of atherosclerosis in general, penile arterial lesions are rarely present.

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Correspondence to A Ponholzer.

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Ponholzer, A., Stopfer, J., Bayer, G. et al. Is penile atherosclerosis the link between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular risk? An autopsy study. Int J Impot Res 24, 137–140 (2012).

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  • artery
  • impotence
  • obstruction
  • pelvic atherosclerosis

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