Department of Urology, Institut Paoli-Calmettes Cancer Centre, Marseille, France. Martini Clinic - Prostate Cancer Centre, Hamburg, Germany.
New insights in the anatomy of the prostate and the surrounding tissue evolve the technique of radical prostatectomy for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Regarding the course of the erectile nerves along the prostate, recent studies confirmed the presence of parasympathetic pro-erectile nerve fibers at the anterolateral aspect of the prostate. Another study of intraoperative electrostimulation of those nerves confirmed an increase in intracavernosal pressure by stimulations between the 1 and 3 o'clock position. Therefore, it is very likely that these anterior nerve fibers have an effect on erectile function. Regarding the urethral sphincter in the male, a study showed no attachment of the external sphincter to the levator ani muscle, probably resulting in an absence of a levator ani support to the continence mechanism. The male urinary sphincter seems to be in isolation responsible for urinary continence.
The nerve fibers at the anterolateral aspect of the prostate seem to participate in erectile function, which renders the concept of a high anterior release during nerve sparing beneficial. The isolated urinary sphincter mechanism results in the need to conserve as much urethral length as possible during radical prostatectomy to avoid urinary incontinence.
Walz J, Graefen M, Huland H. Are you the author?
Reference: Curr Opin Urol. 2011 Feb 9. Epub ahead of print.