Sexual dysfunction is common after surgery for prostate cancer. The aetiology of changes in sexual potency after radical prostatectomy is probably multifactorial, including neurogenic, vascular and psychosexual factors. A prospective study was designed to investigate haemodynamic and psychosexual changes before and after radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) for organ-confined prostate cancer. Penile haemodynamic evaluation and an assessment of sexual excitement were performed preoperatively and 3 months after RRP by colour Doppler ultrasonography (CDU) with visual erotic stimulation combined with a single intracavernous injection of a mixture of papaverine/phentolamine. Questionnaires on sexual function [International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF)], general health and quality of life were sent to the patients preoperative, 3 months and 5 years after operation. Forty-eight men participated in the study. Mean age was 62.6 years (range 55-69). CDU did not show any significant reduction in mean peak systolic flow velocity and mean resistance index. From the men who preoperatively had normal arterial inflow 18% developed arteriogenic insufficiency. Some form of veno-occlusive insufficiency and low resistance indices were already present in the majority of normal potent men preoperatively. Surgical technique did not influence penile arterial blood flow after the operation. Three months and 5 years postoperatively, there was a highly significant reduction in erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, overall satisfaction, orgasmic function and sexual desire. However, with respect to the outcome at 3 months there was a significant improvement of orgasmic function 5 years after operation, especially after a bilateral nerve sparing procedure. Erections sufficient for vaginal penetration (questions 3 and 4 of the IIEF, score ≥8) improved from 2% to 11% 3 months and 5 years after RRP respectively. Total IIEF score was significantly better after a bilateral nerve-sparing procedure compared with non-nerve sparing. No structural vascular changes were observed 3 months after operation. Vascular factors appear to be less important in the aetiology of ED after RRP. There seems to be a trend of a better improvement of sexual function over time, especially orgasmic function, in patients with bilateral nerve-sparing surgery.

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International Journal of Andrology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Dubbelman, Y., Wildhagen, M., & Dohle, G. (2008). Penile vascular evaluation and sexual function before and after radical retropubic prostatectomy: 5-Year follow-up. International Journal of Andrology, 31(5), 483–489. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2007.00792.x