The biomechanics of erections: two- versus one-compartment pressurized vessel modeling of the penis.

Ahmed M. Mohamed, Arthur G. Erdman, Gerald W. Timm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous biomechanical models of the penis simulated penile erections utilizing 2D geometry, simplified 3D geometry or made inaccurate assumptions altogether. These models designed the shaft of the penis as a one-compartment pressurized vessel fixed at one end when in reality it is a two-compartment pressurized vessel in which the compartments diverge as they enter the body and are fixed at two separate anatomic sites. This study utilizes the more anatomically correct two-compartment penile model to investigate erectile function. Simplified 2D and 3D models of the erect penis were developed using the finite element method with varying anatomical considerations for analyzing structural stresses, axial buckling, and lateral deformation. This study then validated the results by building and testing corresponding physical models. Finally, a more complex and anatomically accurate model of the penis was designed and analyzed. When subject to a lateral force of 0.5 N, the peak equivalent von Mises (EVM) stress in the two-compartment model increased by about 31.62%, while in the one-compartment model, the peak EVM stress increased by as high as 70.11%. The peak EVM stress was 149 kPa in the more complex and anatomically accurate penile model. When the perforated septum was removed, the peak EVM stress increased to 455 kPa. This study verified that there is significant difference between modeling the penis as a two- versus a one-compartment pressurized vessel. When subjected to external forces, a significant advantage was exhibited by two corporal based cavernosal bodies separated by a perforated septum as opposed to one corporal body. This is due to better structural integrity of the tunica albuginea when subjected to external forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

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