In order to retain sexual potency after prostate cancer surgery, one or both of the nerve bundles on the sides of the prostate gland must be spared, or not removed, during surgery.
Some men who may be interested in a nerve-sparing procedure may not be able to have this procedure because of the size of their cancer. If your surgeon tells you that a nerve-sparing procedure cannot be done, ask about the possibility of doing a nerve graft.
In this procedure, your surgeon will take a nerve from the ankle area and, using micro-surgical techniques, splice it to the cut ends of the nerves in the nerve bundle that was removed along with your prostate gland.
A nerve graft must be done at the same time as the prostatectomy. If the procedure works, men usually see an improvement in potency within a year or two.
This procedure that is not done at many medical centers. Surgeons at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and UW Medicine are leaders in the Northwest in nerve grafts.