Radical retropubic prostatectomy: the influence of accessory pudendal arteries on the recovery of sexual function.
Arterial insufficiency is a major factor responsible for impotence in men following nerve sparing radical prostatectomy. Previously, accessory internal pudendal arteries have been identified traveling over the anterolateral surface of the prostate. Based on this observation, during the last 7 years we have consistently looked for the presence of these arteries and have developed a surgical technique for their preservation. Between 1987 and 1994, 835 potent men underwent radical prostatectomy and accessory pudendal arteries were identified in 33 (4%). Following the development of the surgical technique, it was possible to preserve arteries in 19 of 24 patients (79%). Followup evaluation of 1 year or longer was available for 22 men who did not undergo wide excision of a neurovascular bundle. Recovery of erection sufficient for unassisted intromission and orgasm occurred in 8 of 12 patients (67%) in whom the arteries were preserved and in 5 of 10 (50%) in whom the arteries were sacrificed. We conclude that 1) the presence of accessory internal pudendal arteries is rare (4%); 2) although these arteries were preserved in 79% of the patients, dissection of these arteries from the dorsal vein complex may be associated with excessive bleeding, and 3) because potency rates are similar in men with or without preservation of accessory arteries, routine preservation may not be productive.
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