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Prostate Removal

What Is Prostate Removal?

Last modified: 
17/04/2013 - 15:02

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Prostate removal, or prostatectomy, is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of a man's prostate gland. This procedure is performed to treat:

  • Prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH)
  • Prostate cancer

The prostate, a gland found only in males, is located under the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube that drains the bladder. In an adult man, the prostate is about the size of a walnut.

The prostate is one of three glands necessary for reproduction. The prostate produces a sticky, milky fluid of acids and enzymes. This fluid makes up about 15 percent of the total volume of the semen and helps to sustain the sperm cells that are created in the testicles. The prostate is surrounded by muscle, which contracts to ejaculate this fluid.

When the entire prostate gland is removed, the operation is called a radical prostatectomy. There are several ways in which this procedure is performed.

  • In a perineal prostatectomy, the prostate is removed through an incision between the scrotum and the anus. Nearby lymph nodes are sometimes removed through a separate incision in the abdomen.
  • In a suprapubic prostatectomy, the prostate (and sometimes nearby lymph nodes) is removed through an incision in the abdomen, just below the belly button. This method allows for the removal of more tissue and is used in cases of prostate cancer that may have spread.
  • Laparoscopic prostatectomy involves removing the prostate using a thin tube-like instrument called a laparoscope. The laparoscope is inserted through a small incision in the belly button and has a lighted camera on the end. Several more small incisions are made in the abdomen through which surgical instruments are passed.

Nice To Know:

Because laparoscopic prostatectomy involves smaller incisions, most men will have a shorter hospital stay and a faster recovery. There also is less blood loss with this technique. However, because this is a relatively new procedure, it is not available at all hospitals.

Nice To Know:

Partial Prostatectomy

In a partial prostatectomy, only some of the prostate tissue is removed. This can be performed as a laser procedure, usually to treat prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which can block the flow of urine. The procedure uses a laser beam to make cuts in or destroy part of the prostate tissue. Laser prostatectomy is considered experimental and may not be available in all hospitals.

Prostate removal can be an extremely effective treatment for prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. But it also is major surgery, and, as such, it carries certain risks and side effects. The two major problems experienced by men after prostatectomy are:

  • Incontinence (an inability to control urination)
  • Impotence (an inability to achieve an erection)

Both of these problems may be temporary and may go away with time. Effective treatments are available to help both incontinence and impotence.

Need To Know:

The chance of impotence has been substantially reduced with the development of "nerve-sparing" techniques, in which the nerve and blood supplies to the erectile tissues of the penis are meticulously preserved during surgery.

For further information about prostate enlargement, go to Prostate Enlargement.

For further information about prostate cancer, go to Prostate Cancer.

Facts About Prostate Removal

  • Prostate removal (prostatectomy) takes about two to four hours to perform.
  • Prostate removal involves a hospital stay of up to 5 days.
  • Prostatectomy can be used to treat prostate enlargement, which affects at least half of all men by age 50 and at least 80 percent of all men by age 80.
  • About 90 percent of men who have their prostate removed to treat prostate enlargement benefit significantly from the procedure.
  • Prostatectomy can be used to treat prostate cancer, which affects an estimated 189,000 men in the U.S. each year.
  • Complications of prostate removal surgery include impotence (the inability to have or maintain an erection) and incontinence (the inability to control urination).
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Prostate Removal (Prostatectomy)

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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.