Evidence supports the likely basis of erectile dysfunction associated with radical prostatectomy to relate to traumatic injury of the erection producing cavernous nerves even when they are gently dissected and preserved at the time of surgery. It is certainly clear that the very best surgical technique is needed as the first-line approach of "neuroprotection." The next frontier in this arena involves strategies directed to maximally restoring cavernous nerve function. Various strategies have been studied in this regard including nerve grafting techniques, nerve stimulation techniques, as well as application of "nerve growth factors" that may revitalize the nerve supply to the penis. Ongoing scientific work at the basic science research laboratory level is fundamental to the achievement of progress in this field. New scientific concepts will next be "translated" to the human condition applying rigorously conducted clinical trials.
At the Brady Urological Institute, our focus continues in an integrative manner to perform the surgery in the most proficient manner while also offering scientifically grounded options to recover erectile function at the time of surgery and in the early postoperative interval. We employ a number of strategies to improve erectile function for our patients:
- A thorough preoperative assessment of function and counseling regarding the expectations after surgery.
- Clinical trials involving experimental therapies to preserve erectile function at the time of surgery.
- "Penile rehabilitation" that can be performed at the discretion of your surgeon or as part of the post-prostatectomy recovery clinic.
This blog was written by Arthur L. Burnett, MD, MBA, FACS, Patrick C. Walsh Distinguished Professor of Urology; Director, Basic Science Laboratory in Neurourology; Director, Sexual Medicine Fellowship Program; and Faculty Member, Cellular and Molecular Medicine Graduate Training Program.