Factors affecting erectile function after radical retropubic prostatectomy: results from 1620 consecutive patients


Mark Soloway, Professor and Chairman, Department of Urology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, PO Box 016960 (M814), Miami, FL 33101, USA.
e-mail: msoloway@med.miami.edu



To report the return of erectile function in 1620 consecutive men after radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP), chosen by half of men diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer, and the goal of which is to completely excise the tumour while preserving continence and erectile function.


From January 1992 to October 2006, one surgeon performed RRP with a nerve-sparing technique where feasible. Men with erectile dysfunction before surgery, salvage RRPs, those not having a nerve-sparing procedure, neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy within 6 months of RRP and a follow-up of <6 months were excluded from the analyses. Erectile function was evaluated by the surgeon when possible or by an annual questionnaire. Potency was defined as erectile function sufficient for intercourse with or without a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor.


Of 619 men who had a bilateral and of 178 who had a unilateral nerve-sparing RRP, 72% and 53%, respectively, were potent. When stratifying by age groups (≤49, 50–59, 60–69 and ≥70 years) potency rates were 86%, 76%, 58% and 37%, respectively. Potency was more common after bilateral than unilateral nerve-sparing RRP in all age groups (P < 0.001). Age, bilateral nerve-sparing (odds ratio 2.9) and surgeon experience were associated with potency in a multivariate analysis.


Careful patient selection and meticulous surgical technique are essential to achieve the right balance between cancer control and morbidity. The patient’s age, nerve-sparing RRP and the surgeon’s experience were the significant predictors of return of potency after RRP.