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Are We Improving Erectile Function Recovery After Radical Prostatectomy? Analysis of Patients Treated over the Last Decade

  • Paolo Capogrosso 1,
  • Emily A. Vertosick 1,
  • Nicole E. Benfante 1,
  • James A. Eastham 1,
  • Peter J. Scardino 1,
  • Andrew J. Vickers 1,
  • John P. Mulhall 1
1 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

Publication: European Urology, Volume 75, Issue 2, February 2019, Pages 221-228


The last decade has seen several advances in radical prostatectomy (RP) technique and post-RP care that are relevant to erectile function (EF) recovery.


We examined whether these practice changes have led to observed improvements in EF rates over time.

Design, setting, and participants

We identified 2364 patients treated with either open or minimally-invasive RP at a single academic center in 2008–2015. To mitigate confounding by the surgical learning curve, only patients treated by surgeons who performed at least 100 procedures were considered.


EF before and after RP was assessed by the International Index of Erectile Function 6 (IIEF-6), with recovery defined as IIEF-6 ≥24.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis

We analyzed EF recovery rates of patients treated with bilateral nerve-sparing surgery and free from adjuvant/salvage treatment at the time of EF assessment. Local polynomial regression analyses explored changes in the outcomes over time. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the influence of year of surgery on baseline variables and EF recovery.

Results and limitations

We observed a significant decrease over time of the EF recovery rates at both 12 and 24 mo post-RP (all p = 0.01). However, patient’s age at surgery increased over time (mean increase of 0.5 per year; p < 0.01), with a resultant increase in risk of comorbidity (odds ratio [OR] = 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02–1.15; p = 0.008) and thus decrease in baseline IIEF-6 score (0.35 points per year; p = 0.0003). After accounting for baseline and pathological characteristics, urinary function, and type of surgery in a multivariable analysis, year of surgery was not associated with EF recovery (12 mo: OR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.91–1.03, p = 0.4; 24 mo: OR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.91–1.03, p = 0.3).


Findings from a high-volume center suggest that, despite the advancements in surgical and postoperative care, EF outcomes after RP have not improved over the last decade. Additional strategies are required to improve EF recovery after RP.

Patient summary

The probability of regaining potency after surgery for prostate cancer did not improve over the last decade; more efforts are needed to improve patient’s care after radical prostatectomy.