The Birmingham Prostate Clinic is dedicated to providing nerve-sparing prostatectomy surgery whenever possible, as this technique offers valued long term benefits to patients.
A radical prostatectomy traditionally involved using wide margins around the prostate, causing damage to the nerves which control the blood supply to the penis that lies alongside the prostate. Undertaken in this way, the traditional radical prostatectomy can cause erectile dysfunction and incontinence (sometimes short term, but maybe longer-term and permanent).
Alan Doherty, clinical director of the Birmingham Prostate Clinic, is widely recognised as one of the UK pioneers of nerve-sparing techniques for the radical prostatectomy. This is a highly skilled operation, achieving cancer clearance while minimising damage to the tiny bundles of erectile nerves which are located close to the prostate. It is a procedure which is dependant upon high levels of skill and experience.
The main benefit of nerve-sparing surgery is that the majority of men able to have sex prior to the operation will also be able to do so afterwards. Some of our patients have no incontinence whatsoever and many find continence returns quickly after surgery.
This type of surgery, known as a nerve-sparing prostatectomy, is only possible when the cancer is confined to the prostate.
Importance of advanced imaging
The nerve-sparing prostatectomy is becoming increasingly common because prostate cancer is being identified earlier in many patients. Another very important development in the nerve-sparing approach has been the vast improvements in the prostate cancer assessment process. At the Birmingham Prostate Clinic, we use enhanced, multi-parametric MRI scans and highly comprehensive template based biopsies. This means we have very detailed information about your prostate cancer, which enables us to make a clear decision about whether a nerve-sparing prostatectomy is appropriate for you.
If your prostate cancer is organ confined, you are best placed to be suitable for a nerve-sparing procedure, designed to achieve the optimal outcome of complete cancer clearance and no long term harm to erections or continence.
Continuous evaluation and refinement
Mr Doherty has a major focus on nerve-sparing prostatectomy, with extensive experience and the commitment to publish and analyse his results.
Our live results centre for prostate cancer surgery is constantly updated with the results reported by our patients on their erectile and continence recovery during the 12 months after surgery.
“Nerve-sparing surgery requires a huge amount of skill,” comments Mr Doherty. “It is only possible to achieve this sort of success rate by carrying out a large number of cases.
“It is very important that anyone considering this surgery should ensure that their surgeon has carried out a large number of these operations and acquired the necessary skills.
“The development of this technique means a perfect result for patients is possible – they get rid of the cancer without suffering long term consequences whilst spending only two days in hospital.
“We are very committed to offering and continuously refining the nerve-sparing prostatectomy at The Birmingham Prostate Clinic because we know although the first priority is, of course, cancer clearance, our patients want to go on and live full lives, unhindered by serious complications like erectile dysfunction and incontinence. Nerve-sparing surgery enables us to achieve this.”
“We have the knowledge and ability to achieve really good results in nerve-sparing surgery. I believe we have a duty to do so because we can safely treat prostate cancer and spare nerves. Erectile function is very important to men’s sense of identity and quality of life.”