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Prostate Removal

What Are The Possible Complications?

Last updated on:
23/04/2012

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The two possible complications associated with prostate removal (prostatectomy) are:

Incontinence

For some men, the inability to control urination may be a long-term consequence of surgery, rather than a temporary problem. This form of incontinence is usually the result of surgical damage to the bladder wall or surrounding muscles or nerves.

Incontinence may be helped by the following treatments:

  • Many men find success with pelvic-floor exercises to improve muscle control.
  • Medications called anticholinergics can help control excessive bladder activity.
  • If incontinence continues to be a problem, surgery may be an option to help restore bladder control.

In rare cases, the incontinence is found to be untreatable. But there are many different products, including disposable undergarments, that can enable men to lead a full, normal life.

Impotence

Prostatectomy may result in impotence, which is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection of the penis. This happens when the nerve supply to the erectile tissues of the penis is damaged during surgery. In the months following surgery, some potency may return.

Some effective treatment options are available for impotence:

  • Drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra) can help a man achieve an erection.
  • Vacuum devices also assist in achieving an erection.
  • Penile implants can be inserted surgically to help create an erection.

Whether or not a man can achieve an erection will depend on the degree to which nerves have been affected by the surgery. Techniques for performing a prostatectomy are improving, and more healthy tissue can now be preserved. Nerve-sparing surgical techniques can preserve the nerve endings that control erection and can help avoid impotence.

For further information about impotence, go to Impotence.

Nice To Know:

Viagra has become the most well-known drug for impotence, or erectile dysfunction. Only a physician should prescribe a drug for this purpose, however. Some of these drugs can cause low blood pressure, and heart-related side effects have been reported.

 
 

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.