Advanced technology has improved prostate cancer surgery to reduce the risks of erectile dysfunction following the procedure. However, possible nerve damage during surgery can still cause impotence in some men. Urinary incontinence is another possible side effect.
A man’s ability to obtain and maintain an erection after prostate cancer surgery may depend on age, sexual function before the operation, and whether certain nerves are cut during the procedure, according to the American Cancer Society
. The organization stated that all men may experience some decrease in the ability to have an erection. But the younger the man, the better chances there are of maintaining the ability to have an erection.
Surgeons attempt to avoid injuring the nerves in the prostate gland that enable men to have sexual function. If the cancer has grown near the nerves, the nerves on one side or both sides of the prostate might have to be removed, causing possible erectile problems.
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Impotence might be prevented through new procedures such as robotic surgery, although there are no guarantees. Robotic surgery includes a high-definition visual technique, called the da Vinci system, that allows surgeons to operate with better precision, dexterity and control than with other methods, according to da Vinci Surgery
The advanced surgical technique results in more precise removal of cancerous tissue with less risk of damaging surrounding tissue and nerves. This has shown a faster return to erectile function for patients who have not had problems with impotence before the surgery.
Fewer complications occur with robotic surgery than with traditional methods of prostate cancer surgery. Research shows more patients returning to the erectile function they had before the surgery than with other surgeries during checkups a year later, da Vinci Surgery noted. However, sexual dysfunction due to nerve damage remains a potential risk from the surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny video camera inserted into the abdomen, making it possible to make smaller incisions than in traditional prostate surgery methods. Robotic surgery is a type of laparoscopic surgery. Instead of operating directly themselves, the surgeons operate from a panel that controls robotic arms.
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There is less of a risk of scarring with robotic surgery than with other surgeries, according to Dr. David B. Samadi, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital
in New York. The build-up of scar tissue following surgery may cause complications in the proper function of the prostate gland. These complications are less likely with the minimal incisions used in robotic surgery.
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