March 16, 2009 -- Question: What are the risks/side effects of a radical retropubic prostatectomy?
Answer: Every surgery including radical retropubic prostatectomy has its risk and side effects. The risks obviously, anytime you go under the knife for a major operation are there starting from anesthesia infection and specific to this certain operation like radical retropubic prostatectomy. Speaking particularly about radical retropubic prostatectomy, the risks of infection, bleeding, strictures or narrowing or areas, the connection between the bladder and the urethra once the prostate is removed can narrow and scar down where you can not urinate.
Other common surgical risks -- rectal injury because the rectum sits just underneath the prostate can also happen and you can also have a lot of bleeding, which can be controlled, but these are the risks of, immediate risks of a radical retropubic prostatectomy.
Long-term risks are incontinence because the sphincter mechanism for urine control is lost and has to be rebuilt. Number two, sexual function because the nerves for sexual function travel along the edges of the prostate and they are disturbed or they have to be moved away from the prostate when it's removed. It leads to sexual dysfunction, which could be permanent or could just be temporary and return with either rehabilitation or on its own with some kind of help depending upon the type of nerve preservation which has been performed during the radical retropubic prostatectomy.