Purpose: The use of cavernous nerve interposition grafting to preserve erectile function in men who require neurovascular bundle resection for cancer control is controversial. We report outcomes and predictors of cavernous nerve interposition grafting in men undergoing unilateral grafting during radical prostatectomy or bilateral grafting during radical cystectomy and prostatectomy with autologous nerve grafts. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the electronic records of 36 patients who underwent cavernous nerve interposition grafting between 2003 and 2006. Postoperatively erectile function was assessed with the International Index of Erectile Function 15-item questionnaire. Predictors of potency, including age at surgery, time since surgery and prostate specific antigen at surgery, were assessed by univariate analysis. Results: A total of 33 patients (92% response rate) were followed for a median of 32, 25 and 11 months after bilateral grafting during radical cystectomy (10), unilateral grafting during radical prostatectomy (20), and bilateral grafting during radical cystectomy and prostatectomy (3), respectively. The rate of potency, defined as the ability to attain and maintain erection sufficient for penetration at least 50% of the time with or without phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, was 31% (5 of 13 men) for unilateral grafts, 38% (5 of 16) for bilateral grafts and 30% (3 of 10) for bilateral grafts during radical cystectomy. Age at surgery was the only significant determinant of potency and it showed an inverse relationship in the bilateral nerve graft group (p = 0.02). Conclusions: Cavernous nerve interposition grafting appears to have a role in the recovery of erectile function. To our knowledge this study represents the largest series of cavernous nerve interposition grafting during cystectomy and it suggests that this should be considered during bilateral neurovascular bundle resection.
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