Thursday, March 6, 2008

Saving the blood vessels along with the nerves

When undergoing a radical prostatectomy to remove a cancerous prostate, surgeons commonly take a "nerve-sparing" approach to preserve the bundles of nerves that are necessary for erections.
Recent studies show that perhaps that isn't enough. A paper by doctors at the Sidney Kimmel Center for Prostate and Urologic Cancers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York says the concept of "artery sparing" radical prostatectomies should be advanced.
This is certainly something you'll want to talk about with your surgeon if you're planning a regular or laproscopic operation for prostate cancer.
The paper -- Artery Sparing Radical Prostatectomy - Myth or Reality? -- notes that not all men whose nerves are spared during prostate surgery ever recover full erections.
While there's no question that preservation of the cavernous nerves is necessary for men to get erections, the paper notes:

"In addition, it is believed that erectile tissue requires oxygenation to
maintain its integrity, which can be significantly affected if the arteries
irrigating the cavernous bodies are damaged intraoperatively, such as the
accessory pudendal arteries."

While informing the urological community about the potential need to spare the
accessory pudendal arteries, the researchers say further study is needed. "The
crux of the difficulty," they say, "is deciding which arteries should be
preserved and which may be sacrified."
A copy of this abstract is posted online at

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