• prostate cancer;
  • tactile;
  • examination;
  • surgical margin


To evaluate the ability of intra-operative prostate examination (IOPE) to predict extraprostatic extension (EPE) and its effect on margin status in the region of the neurovascular bundle (NVB) when combined with wide excision.


We retrospectively reviewed 403 patients with clinical stage T1c prostate adenocarcinoma undergoing radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP). All patients had IOPE during RRP, and those with palpable abnormalities in the region of the NVB underwent wide excision. Pathological outcomes were analysed.


Of 403 patients, 49 (12%) had a palpable abnormality in the region of the NVB. After wide excision, 18 (37%) of these 49 patients were found to have EPE at the site of the palpable abnormality; with wide excision of the NVB, only one of these 18 patients (6%) had a corresponding positive surgical margin (PSM). In 354 patients with a normal IOPE and who underwent bilateral NVB preservation, 30 were found to have EPE in the region of the NVB. The PSM rate in this subset was 23% (seven of 30). The positive predictive value of IOPE for detecting EPE was 37%.


IOPE detects abnormalities in 12% of patients with preoperative stage T1c prostate cancer. Although the predictive value of this test is limited, IOPE may decrease PSMs in a subset of patients with EPE in the region of the NVB. The present study reaffirms the value of IOPE for assessing the risk of extraprostatic disease, and for guiding surgical management.