Introduction. The association between erectile dysfunction (ED) and radical prostatectomy (RP) is well established. It is our clinical experience that some men who have functional erections in the days to weeks after RP go on to lose erectile function (EF) after the first 3 months postsurgery.
Aim. To assess EF over a 12-month period in patients with functional erections at 3 months following RP.
Methods. As part of a large prospective quality-of-life (QOL) study of men undergoing RP at our institution, EF is measured postoperatively at regular time intervals using serial administration of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire. For study inclusion, patients had to have functional erections (a score 4 or 5 on IIEF question 3) at the third postoperative month, and have at least 12 months of follow-up.
Main Outcome Measures. Assessment of EF and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i) use at 3, 6, and 12 months after RP.
Results. At 3 months, 76 of 482 patients (16%) had functional erections. Between 3 to 6 months postoperatively, 20% of men deteriorated in their functional status. Of these men, 91% had functional erections at 1 year. Comparing patients who did not require PDE5i to obtain a functional erection at 3 months with those who did, the EF outcomes were superior at 6 months (80% vs. 72%, P = 0.74) and 12 months (100% vs. 88%, P = 0.33).
Conclusion. The recovery of functional erections in the early postoperative phase, especially without the need for PDE5i, is a good prognostic indicator for EF at 12 months. However, a distinct cohort of men lose functional erections within 6 months after surgery. It is important to inform patients of this possibility, as it has an impact on their QOL and, potentially, on their compliance with post-RP therapy for ED. Katz D, Bennett NE, Stasi J, Eastham JA, Guillonneau BD, Scardino PT, and Mulhall JP. Chronology of erectile function in patients with early functional erections following radical prostatectomy. J Sex Med 2010;7:803–809.