Birmingham Prostate Clinic is running a major study of patients following nerve-sparing prostatectomy to analyse the long term effects of surgery.
Online PR News – 06-October-2009 – – The early open radical prostatectomy resulted in complete impotence for patients because the erectile nerves which lie next to the prostate were irreparably damaged during surgery.
Nerve-sparing surgery has been introduced in more recent years by a small number of specialist surgeons for patients with organ confined prostate cancer in order to preserve as much erectile function as possible.
At Birmingham Prostate Clinic, we use a technique called intrafascial nerve-sparing surgery, which is the most effective way of safely removing all cancer cells with minimal damage to adjacent nerves.
Mr Alan Doherty of Birmingham Prostate Clinic, who has undertaken more than 1,200 prostatectomies, has launched a unique study of the effectiveness of nerve sparing surgery.
“Although a number of surgeons in the UK offer nerve-sparing surgery, we don’t currently have an agreed, baseline assessment for measuring the long term effects of surgery,” explains Mr Doherty.
“This is because erectile function is measured in different ways, open to a range of interpretations and is dependent upon the group of patients you are assessing.”
Mr Doherty’s study involves assessing ‘index’ patients – men who have normal erections before prostate surgery and are motivated to achieve normal erectile function after surgery.
“By having what are termed ‘index’ patients, we have a group who are starting at the same point and want to achieve the same thing – a return to normal erectile function by 12 months after surgery.”
There are currently 25 index patients in the study, which has been running for three months. The results will be published in full once the patients have been assessed during their first year after surgery.
“Erectile function is something which is understandably very important to many patients,” says Mr Doherty.
“Once men have recovered from surgery and feel confident that their cancer has been successfully treated, they want to return to normal life with their partner.
“Currently, patients have little opportunity to compare the results of different surgeons offering nerve-sparing surgery. When we make major decisions in life, we want to compare different options and there is no reason why surgery should be any different.
“The index study is part of our commitment to being completely open with patients and sharing our results. As a surgeon, it enables me to measure my results in a more exact way which is very important in terms of further refining and improving techniques.
“I hope the index approach will be adopted by other surgeons so that in future, patients will be able to compare the results of different surgeons offering nerve-sparing surgery.”