Prostatectomy Complications

A prostatectomy is a surgical procedure in which the prostate gland is removed. There are two types of prostatectomy procedures: simple, which is removal of the prostate, and radical, which is removal of the prostate and surrounding tissues. Potential prostatectomy complications should be discussed with your doctor or surgeon prior to undergoing surgery.

Urinary Incontinence

Prostate removal may damage the urinary sphincter, a small muscle that helps retain urine within the bladder. If this occurs, you may temporarily or permanently lose the ability to control the flow of your urine, a medical condition known as urinary incontinence. This may cause urine to leak from the bladder, which may be embarrassing. Medical professionals at the Better Health Channel, an informational health website established by the Australian government, estimate that one-third of men who have prostatectomy treatment develop some level of urinary incontinence and in 2 to 5 percent of these men, follow-up surgery is necessary. Improvement after surgery may take three to 12 months.

Urinary Obstruction

After undergoing a prostatectomy, some men develop small pieces of scar tissue within the urethra, the thin tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. This may cause significant difficulty urinating or may lead to urinary incontinence. Men who develop a urinary obstruction typically require additional surgery to remove the excess scar tissue.


During surgery, the nerves that run to the penile tissue may become damaged. When this happens, it may be difficult to achieve or maintain an erection, a condition known as impotence. Medical professionals at the University of Maryland Medical Center report that nearly all men who undergo radical prostatectomy experience some erectile problems afterward. Though impotence may be permanent, some men regain normal function one to two years after surgery.


Radical prostatectomy includes removal of the seminal glands, which produce semen. Though the man may regain the ability to orgasm normally after surgery, he will not expel any semen during ejaculation (dry ejaculation). After this type of surgery, a man no longer produces sperm and cannot impregnate a woman, warn health professionals at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston.

About this Author

Rachel R. Ahmed, M.S., is a freelance writer and editor based in San Diego. Ahmed received her M.S. degree in integrated biomedical sciences and has been working as a freelance writer and editor for more than five years. Some of her freelance clients include The Burroughs Wellcome Fund,,, L3 Communications, and ThinkTank Learning.