Prostate surgery need not mean loss of potency

February 27th, 2008 - 1:55 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 27 (IANS) Men who lose their prostates after surgery need not despair - there’s a new tool to help them retain their potency. The tool, which is currently undergoing evaluation in the US, enables surgeons to pinpoint microscopic nerves around the prostate controlling sexual function.

They can then avoid damaging these nerves during the prostate’s removal, said James Brooks, a Stanford urologist, who is part of a multi-centre study of the device.

The device, approved a year ago by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), works by delivering a low-level electrical stimulus to the nerves around the prostate and then measuring the erection response.

Through this process, the device helps map these critical nerves, not visible to the eye, so that doctors can navigate around them during surgery. The new tool could make nerve-sparing surgeries more widely available to prostate cancer patients, Brooks said.

Brooks is currently the only urologist in Northern California who is using the new device. Called the CaverMap Surgical Aid, the device is made by a biomedical company.

The prostate is a walnut-sized organ that sits in a nest of blood vessels just below the bladder. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among men.

Prostate surgery took a major leap forward in 1982 when Patrick Walsh of Johns Hopkins Medical Centre discovered that the nerves controlling erections do not pass through the prostate, but are situated around it.

By 1984, Walsh had developed a new technique, called nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy, which enabled him to preserve sexual function in a large number of his prostate cancer patients.

Brooks worked with Walsh for nine years before coming to Stanford a year ago.

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