February 21, 2019

   A Publication of the James Buchanan Brady
   Urological Institute Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Volume II, Winter 1991

Experimental use of Nerve Grafts to Restore Erections

Although potency can be preserved in most men following radical prostatectomy, in some patients one or both nerves must be sacrificed to remove all tumor. For these patients, we have considered nerve reconstruction at the time of surgery using a nerve graft. We have recently tested this possibility in a laboratory rat model. Using a nerve graft obtained from the genitofemoral nerve (a nerve conveniently located in the pelvis that can be removed with few side effects) we were able to restore sexual function after excision of both nerves. Furthermore, we were able to show that nerve growth factor--a biologically active chemical--enhanced nerve regeneration in this animal model.

It is still too early to consider the possibilty of performing this procedure after surgery in patients who have not regained sexual function. But these results are promising and suggest that it might be possible in the future to place a nerve graft in patients at the time of surgery when the neurovascular bundle requires excision.


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