Erectile dysfunction after surgical treatment

Int J Androl. 2003 Jun;26(3):137-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2605.2003.00384.x.


Erectile dysfunction is a recognized complication of prostate and bladder radical surgery, although there is significant variation in the reported risk, much of this variability is related to the retrospective nature of most previous studies. Undoubtedly, the quality of life of bladder and prostate cancer patients would be much improved if both normal micturition and potency are preserved, which is the subject of this article. Quality of life studies can delineate sexual function after radical prostatectomy, including the use of sexual aids. Penile erection is a neurovascular event modulated by neurotransmitters and hormonal status. The penis is innervated by autonomic and somatic nerves. Both surgery and radiation therapy appear to affect such a mechanism. Radiation is thought to produce Erectile Dysfunction (ED) by accelerating microvascular angiopathy causing cavernosal fibrosis or stenosis of the pelvic arteries and by accelerating existing arteriosclerosis, leading to vascular impotence. Years may elapse before clinically significant ED occurs. Criteria that influence recovery of erections after surgery include younger patient age, stronger erections before operation, preservation of the neurovascular bundles, and attention to fine details in the surgical technique. Recovery of erections occurs in 68% of preoperatively potent men treated with bilateral nerve-sparing surgery and in 47% of those treated with unilateral nerve-sparing surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Prostatectomy* / methods
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Urinary Bladder / surgery*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / surgery