Advertisement

What is nerve-sparing prostatectomy?

There are nerves and blood vessels that course right against the prostate at the 5 and 7 o'clock positions of the prostate. These function to aid with erectile function and continence. During removal of the prostate, the surgeon can dissect these away from the prostate so they can remain intact and functional. They often may have to heal after the surgery given that there is inflammation that occurs during the healing process. During this time, they do not function as well, which is one of the reasons men may have ED and urinary incontinence after prostate removal. Some men with larger amounts of prostate cancer or more aggressive forms may not be candidates for nerve-sparing due to the risk for leaving cancer cells behind. This needs to be discussed on patient-specific basis. 
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Men have traditionally shuddered at the risks of radical prostatectomy, especially permanent impotence, which used to occur in nearly all cases. But that began to change in the early 1980s, when a so-called nerve-sparing operation was developed. During this surgery, doctors attempt to spare the two bundles of nerves that lie on either side of the prostate gland and control erections. This type of operation may also reduce the likelihood of other serious side effects, such as urinary incontinence and significant blood loss.

Continue Learning about Prostatectomy

Who should have a radical prostatectomy?
Marc B. Garnick, MDMarc B. Garnick, MD
The best candidates for radical prostatectomy surgery (a procedure in which the prostate gland, semi...
More Answers
How is a robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy performed?
Marc B. Garnick, MDMarc B. Garnick, MD
To perform a robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy, the surgeon sits at a console several feet a...
More Answers
Can urinary leakage occur after a radical prostatectomy?
Joseph E. Busby, MDJoseph E. Busby, MD
Yes, it is common for men to leak for 6 weeks to 6 months after surgery. This will progressively imp...
More Answers
What is a prostatectomy?
Penn MedicinePenn Medicine
The most common surgery for prostate cancer is a total (radical) prostatectomy. This surgery seeks t...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.