A new nerve grafting technique has successfully been used to combat erectile dysfunction in men who have undergone prostate removal surgery in the past, a new research paper claims.
Recovering from Radical Prostatectomy
In cases where patients are diagnosed with extremely aggressive prostate tumors, surgery is often one of the best treatment options. However, when it comes to the removal of the prostate entirely, a procedure known as a radical prostatectomy, there’s a slight chance of some side effects, up to and including erectile dysfunction.
Treatment for ED in prostate cancer survivors who undergo radical prostatectomy has been relatively limited in the past. These can include prosthetic devices or injections in some cases, all of which are less than ideal for many patients. However, a new approach provides a high rate of recovery from radical prostatectomy through the use of taking a nerve from one part of the body and grafting it to the affected area. The results have been startling to say the least, with two men involved in the clinical trial experiencing their first erection in years.
The Process and its Success
The process, detailed in an accompanying research paper recently published in European Urology, involves end-to-side somatic-to-autonomic nerve grafting. A portion of the patient’s sural nerve from the leg was removed and grafted to the femoral nerve, a larger nerve located in the thigh. This graft then began to grow, with new nerve fibers replacing those lost in the radical prostatectomy and connecting to the corpora cavernosa, the spongy tissue of the penis that controls the ability to become erect.
The process itself was found to be highly tolerable in the 17 patients of the research study, with the majority being able to be released and sent home the following day. 12 of these men went on to regain their ability to have an erection, with three reporting positive results in six months. In another six months past that, the remaining nine reported positive results as well.
Overall, this procedure was found to have a 71 percent success rate, though the sample size was obviously small. Doctors hope to expand their research to see if these methods can help restore sexual function to more men suffering from ED.