Are buckling force measurements reliable in nocturnal penile tumescence studies?Sleep. 1993 Feb; 16(2):156-62.S
The study of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) is frequently used to evaluate male erectile dysfunction. Buckling force, a measure of rigidity, is an important part of this evaluation, but its reliability is unknown. Accordingly, we studied the reliability of buckling force measurement and the stability of "maximum buckling force" between consecutive NPT series repeated in the same subject. For individual subjects, we correlated buckling forces for separate episodes of sleep-related tumescence that were of comparable fullness (0-100%) as rated by a technician's visual estimates. For healthy control subjects, test-retest correlations were > 0.8 both within-night and across study series separated by an average of 70 weeks. In depressed men, correlations within nights were > 0.9, but fell to 0.64 across study series separated by an average of 21 weeks. Despite the high reliability of buckling force measurement, we found little stability of "maximum buckling force" between NPT series for individual subjects. Considerable variability in the maximum degree of penile rigidity was seen over time despite a constant level of reported daytime erectile function. We conclude that although penile rigidity is one of the more important variables in the assessment of male erectile dysfunction and can be measured reliably, the instability of maximum rigidity during sleep-related erections suggests that it is, at best, an imprecise correlate of daytime erectile function.