What is Erectile Rehabilitation after a Robotic Prostatectomy
When diagnosed at an early stage, prostate cancer is a treatable disease. Therefore, side effects of treatment are important to consider when making treatment decisions, particularly for younger men who may live for several decades after treatment. One side effect that is of great concern to men undergoing any treatment for prostate cancer is erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection adequate for sexual activity.
Men will experience erectile dysfunction temporarily, or in some cases permanently, after surgery. Whether they regain erections in the coming months or years, and how quickly they will do so, depends on each individual’s preoperative erectile function, age, other health factors and stage of cancer. Many men who have return of erectile function after surgery will notice that their erections may not be as firm as before surgery or that they may have to use other treatment options for this.
Physicians who treat men with prostate cancer have begun to adopt regimens to aid men in recovery of erections after surgery. These erectile rehabilitation regimens essentially aim to improve the chances for recovery and/or the speed of recovery of erections. A growing body of evidence supports the thought that encouraging quicker return of erections reduces the damage that comes from prolonged lack of erections, including scarring and reduced elasticity of the spongy tissues of the penis.
Erectile Rehabilitation at the OSUCCC–James
We have developed a unique erectile rehabilitation program that begins within one to several weeks after robotic prostatectomy. We believe that early and aggressive therapy can not only preserve the health of erectile tissues while nerve function is restored but that this type of rehabilitation can improve the eventual outcome in returning to sexual function. While some centers and surgeons are unable to devote time and resources necessary for this kind of program, Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute is committed not only to cancer treatment but also working with those patients entrusted to our care to achieve the highest level of quality of life during and after treatment.
Patrick DiMeo, RN, BSN, OCN, is an integral part of the robotic prostatectomy erectile rehabilitation program. He has been with the OSUCCC–James since its inception in 1990 and his work at the James has been dedicated solely to postoperative erectile rehabilitation after robotic prostatectomy since 2005. Beginning with the first postoperative visit patients will begin working with Patrick on rehabilitating erectile function for as complete and speedy a return of function as possible.
Through his extensive experience in working with and counseling patients on erectile rehabilitation, Patrick offers an unmatched level of compassion and understanding regarding this often sensitive part of returning to normal life after cancer treatment. Having worked with more than 1,500 patients after robotic prostatectomy, Patrick’s insights and practical advice on erectile rehabilitation are of great value to any patient. Spouses or partners of patients are encouraged to be a part of the erectile rehabilitation visits and will learn how to help their cancer survivor cope with and properly apply the rehabilitation process.