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Keywords:

  • radical prostatectomy;
  • prostatic cancer;
  • sexual function;
  • impotence;
  • pelvic plexus

Abstract

The technique for radical retropubic prostatectomy has been modified to avoid injury to the branches of the pelvic plexus that innervate the corpora cavernosa. The surgical procedure is based on an understanding of the anatomical relationships between the branches of the pelvic plexus that innervate the corpora cavernosa, the capsular branches of the prostatic vessels that provide the scaffolding for these nerves, and the lateral pelvic fascia. The modifications involve two steps in the procedure: 1) the incision in the lateral pelvic fascia is placed anterior to the neurovascular bundle, which is located dorsolateral to the prostate along the pelvic sidewall; 2) the lateral pedicle is divided close to the prostate to avoid injury to the branches of the pelvic plexus that accompany the capsular vessels of the prostate. Pathologic evaluation of 16 prostatic specimens removed by this modified procedure demonstrated no compromise in the adequacy of the surgical margins. Postoperative sexual function was evaluated in 12 men who underwent the procedure 2-10 months previously. All have experienced erections and six have achieved successful vaginal penetration and orgasm. Of the six patients with sexual partners who have been followed 6 months or longer, five (83%) are fully potent. These data indicate that it is possible to cure localized prostatic cancer with surgery and maintain postoperative sexual function.