Preservation of penile length after radical prostatectomy: early intervention with a vacuum erection device

Int J Impot Res. Sep-Oct 2007;19(5):501-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901561. Epub 2007 Jul 26.


Radical prostatectomy has been shown to have a potential negative impact on penile health. Stretched penile length (SPL), which most closely correlates with erect penile length, was significantly reduced in almost half of men undergoing surgery in several studies. The purpose of this study was to test whether early intervention after surgery with a vacuum erection device could prevent the changes in penile health, as defined by SPL, found in prior studies. Forty-two men with good preoperative sexual function undergoing nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy underwent measurement of SPL preoperative and at 3 months postoperative by a single investigator. Daily use of a vacuum erection device (VED) was begun the day after catheter removal, and continued for 90 days. Men kept a log of their compliance with daily VED use. A decrease in SPL of > or = 1.0 cm was considered significant. Out of 42 men, 39 completed the study. In men who used the VED >50% of possible days, only 1/36 (3%) had a decrease in SPL of > or = 1.0 cm. Of the three men with poor VED compliance, two (67%) had a reduction in SPL of > or = 1.0 cm. When compared to prior studies where 48% of men after surgery had a significant reduction in SPL, early intervention with the daily use of a VED resulted in a significantly lower risk of loss of penile length (P<0.0001). For men wishing to preserve penile health/length after surgery, early intervention with the daily use of a VED should be strongly recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Penile Erection / physiology*
  • Penis / physiology*
  • Prostatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Vacuum