Erectile function after radical prostatectomy

J J Mulcahy
Seminars in Urologic Oncology 2000, 18 (1): 71-5
The early detection of prostate cancer through the use of prostate-specific antigen screening has resulted in the performance of many more radical prostatectomy procedures as a curative treatment for this disease. Many patients who are candidates for this procedure already suffer from erectile dysfunction, and the incidence of inadequate erections following radical prostatectomy is certainly high. Nerve-sparing procedures during performance of this operation are encouraged as the incidence of erectile dysfunction is lower if one or both nerves are spared. If the patient is already impotent before the procedure, medical treatments with oral agents, intraurethral compounds, or intracorporally injected medications may be more effective with the nerves intact. Early institution of medical therapy, specifically intracorporal injections, after 2 months postoperatively has resulted in a higher incidence of spontaneous return of erections at 1 year. Vacuum erection devices may be successful in restoring erections but extensive practice in their use is necessary, and they may be unappealing to many patients. A penile prosthesis will restore erections if the patient is so motivated for implantation of such a device. These are expensive and require invasive surgery, but satisfaction rates among patients and partners who have used them have been in the range of 85%, the highest satisfaction rate among all of the treatments of erectile dysfunction.

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