Choosing the Best Candidates for Penile Rehabilitation after Bilateral Nerve-Sparing Radical Prostatectomy


Alberto Briganti, MD, Urological Research Institute, Department of Urology, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Via Olgettina 60, Milan 20132, Italy. Tel: +39 02 026437286; Fax: +39 02 26437298; E-mail:


Introduction.  Controversy exists regarding the ideal candidates for penile rehabilitation after bilateral nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy (BNSRP).

Aim.  To test the effect of penile rehabilitation according to preoperative patient characteristics.

Methods.  We included 435 consecutive patients treated with BNSRP between 2004 and 2008. Preoperative age, International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) were used to subdivide patients into three groups according to foreseen risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) after surgery: low (age ≤65, IIEF-erectile function (EF) ≥26, CCI ≤1; N = 184), intermediate (age 66–69 or IIEF-EF 11–25, CCI ≤1; N = 115), and high (age ≥70 or IIEF-EF ≤10 or CCI ≥2; N = 136). The Kaplan–Meier method was used to test the difference in EF recovery rates among patients left untreated after surgery (N = 193), those receiving on-demand phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5-I; N = 147), and those treated with chronic use of PDE5-I (taken every day or every other day for 3–6 months; N = 95). The same analyses were repeated within each risk category.

Main Outcome Measure.  Erectile function (EF) was evaluated using the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). Recovery of EF after BNSRP was defined as an IIEF-EF domain score ≥22.

Results.  No difference in terms of EF recovery was found between patients receiving on-demand vs. daily PDE5-I (P = 0.09) in the overall population. Similarly, comparable efficacy of the two treatment schedules (on-demand vs. chronic) was demonstrated in patients with low and high risk of ED (all P ≥ 0.8). Conversely, daily therapy with PDE5-I showed significantly higher efficacy for the EF recovery rate compared with the on-demand PDE5-I administration schedule in patients with intermediate risk of ED (3-year EF recovery: 74% vs. 52%, respectively; P = 0.02).

Conclusion.  The ideal candidates for penile rehabilitation after surgery are patients at intermediate risk of ED. Briganti A, Di Trapani E, Abdollah F, Gallina A, Suardi N, Capitanio U, Tutolo M, Passoni N, Salonia A, DiGirolamo V, Colombo R, Guazzoni G, Rigatti P, and Montorsi F. Choosing the best candidates for penile rehabilitation after bilateral nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy. J Sex Med 2012;9:608–617.