JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Erectile function after nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. Nocturnal early erection as a parameter of postoperative organic erectile integrity]

A Bannowsky, H Schulze, C van der Horst, J H Stübinger, F J Martinez Portillo, K P Jünemann
Der Urologe. Ausg. A 2005, 44 (5): 521-6
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The time lapse before recovery of erectile function after nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy is still under debate. Several pathophysiologies are postulated for postoperative erectile function rehabilitation. In prospective studies we measured nocturnal penile tumescence (NPTR) in the acute phase during the first night after catheter removal subsequent to nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy to assess the neuronal organic erectile integrity. Eighteen sexually active patients suffering from local prostate cancer underwent bilateral and unilateral nerve-sparing retropubic radical prostatectomy. All patients completed an IIEF-5 questionnaire concerning erectile function preoperatively. The transurethral catheter was removed 14 days after surgery, and nocturnal penile tumescence was measured with an erectometer (Rigi-Scan) in each patient during the following night. None of these patients received any comedication interacting with erectile function. The preoperative IIEF score was >18 in all patients. After catheter removal, 17 of 18 patients (95%) had nocturnal penile radial rigidity >70% that persisted for >10 min during one night. In a control of four patients without a nerve-sparing procedure, no nocturnal erections were recorded. The measurement of NPTR in the acute phase after nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy showed retained erectile function even during the "first" night after catheter removal. Our findings are important for an appropriate choice of pharmacotherapy for optimal recovery of erectile function. In cases of early penile erections, the cavernous nerve had been well preserved during surgery providing good neuronal integrity, and PDE-5 inhibitors can support organic rehabilitation of the corpus cavernosum. In the absence of early penile erections, the neuronal integrity of the cavernous nerve is presumed to be impaired. In this case, additional injection therapy should be chosen to support recovery of spontaneous erectile function.

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