Potency, continence and complication rates in 1,870 consecutive radical retropubic prostatectomies

William J. Catalona*, Gustavo F. Carvalhal, Douglas E. Mager, Deborah S. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

644 Scopus citations


Purpose: We update results in a series of consecutive patients treated with anatomic radical retropubic prostatectomy regarding recovery of erections, urinary continence and postoperative complications. Materials and Methods: One surgeon performed anatomic radical retropubic prostatectomy on 1,870 men, using the nerve sparing modification when feasible. We evaluated recovery of erections and urinary continence in men followed for a minimum of 18 months. Patients who were not reliably potent before surgery, did not undergo a nerve sparing procedure, or received hormonal therapy or postoperative adjuvant radiotherapy were excluded from the analysis of potency rates but not of continence rates. Other postoperative complications were evaluated for the entire patient population. Results: Recovery of erections occurred in 68% of preoperatively potent men treated with bilateral (543 of 798) and 47% treated with unilateral (28 of 60) nerve sparing surgery. Recovery of erections was more likely with bilateral than with unilateral nerve sparing surgery in patients less than 70 years old (71 versus 48%, p < 0.001) compared with patients with age 70 years old or older (48 versus 40%, p = 0.6). Recovery of urinary continence occurred in 92% (1,223 of 1,325 men) and was associated with younger age (p < 0.0001) but not with tumor stage (p = 0.2) or nerve sparing surgery (p = 0.3). Postoperative complications occurred in 10% of patients overall and were associated with older age (p < 0.002) but the incidence declined significantly with increasing experience of the surgeon (p < 0.0001). There was no operative mortality. Conclusions: Anatomic radical retropubic prostatectomy with the nerve sparing modification can be performed with favorable results in preserving potency and urinary continence. Better results are achieved in young men with organ confined cancer. Other complications can be reduced with increasing surgeon experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-438
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Penile erection
  • Prostate
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic neoplasms
  • Urinary incontinence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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