Prostatectomy Effects

A prostatectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the prostate, a gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is performed to treat benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Since approximately 90 percent of men will suffer from BPH by their 70s and 80s, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), it is important to understand the effects of a prostatectomy.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

One serious effect of a prostatectomy is deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that occurs when the blood in the vessels in the legs moves too slowly increasing the risk of blood clot formation. Although blood clots form in less than 10 percent of the cases, according to the Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide, they can cause serious effects. A blood clot in the legs can break away and travel through the body causing a pulmonary embolism, which blocks the artery leading to the lungs and heart. This can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Incontinence

Incontinence is the inability to control the flow of urine resulting in urine leakage. Many patients will experience some level of incontinence following surgery, but less than 5 percent will have total incontinence, according to the Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide. Stress incontinence, the leakage of urine when sneezing, coughing or lifting objects, is common but will often improve over time following the surgery.

Impotence

The effect that patients undergoing a prostatectomy are often most concerned about is impotence. The actual statistics on impotence vary. The Prostate Cancer Institute reports that 51 to 96 percent of patients are affected by impotence whereas the NKUDIC says about 30 percent of patients are affected.

There are two nerve bundles, one on each side of the prostate, that are important for stimulating the blood flow to the penis to produce an erection. Doctors try to perform nerve-sparing techniques to keep these nerves intact during prostatectomy to help reduce the rate of impotence. Even those who suffer from impotence following surgery may regain their sexual function within the year following surgery.

Sterility

A prostatectomy can result in sterility, the inability to father children. This is due to retrograde ejaculation which is when the semen containing the sperm flows backward into the bladder instead of out the urethra during climax.

Infection

As with any surgical procedure in which an incision is made into the body, an infection is a possible effect of the surgery. Most commonly, it’s the incision that becomes infected though infection can also occur as a result of catheterization that introduces bacteria into the urethra and bladder.

Death

Death due to a prostatectomy is rare. In fact, the Prostate Cancer Treatment Guide reports that only one-half of 1 percent of patients have died as a result of this procedure.

About this Author

Stephanie Chandler is a freelance writer whose master’s degree in biomedical science and over 15 years’ experience in the scientific and pharmaceutical professions provide her with the knowledge to contribute to health topics. Chandler has been writing for corporations and small businesses since 1991. In addition to writing scientific papers and procedures, her articles are published on Overstock.com, Helium.com and other websites.