Purpose: To preserve sexual function following radical prostatectomy, one must avoid injury to the neurovascular bundles (NVBs). In the conventional open surgical technique, the use of energy sources for hemostasis is avoided to prevent damage to the cavernous nerves. In contrast, during laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, electrosurgical and ultrasonic energy sources are frequently used for hemostasis during dissection of the prostate. In this study, we evaluated the acute and chronic physiological effects of various hemostatic energy sources on cavernous nerve function in the canine model. Materials and Methods: A total of 12 dogs were divided into 4 groups based on the type of energy source used for hemostasis during unilateral dissection of the NVB. The groups included conventional dissection with suture ligatures (group 1), monopolar (group 2) or bipolar (group 3) electrosurgery and ultrasonic shears (group 4). The contralateral NVB was left undissected as a control. Erectile function was assessed acutely and after 2 weeks of survival by measuring peak intracavernous pressures in response to cavernous nerve stimulation. Results: Following conventional techniques of nerve sparing, the erectile response to nerve stimulation was unaffected. In contrast, the use of energy sources in proximity to the NVB during nerve preservation was associated with a substantial decrease in erectile response both acutely (74% to 91% decrease compared to controls) and after 2 weeks (93% to 96% decrease). Conclusions: In the chronic canine model, use of hemostatic energy sources in proximity to the prostate during dissection of the neurovascular bundle is associated with a significantly decreased erectile response to cavernous nerve stimulation.
- Penile erection