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Surgery. 2002 Apr;131(4):368-72.

A prospective study of sexual and urinary function before and after total mesorectal excision with autonomic nerve preservation for rectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Saint-Antoine University-Hospital, 184 rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75012 Paris, France.



Oncologic resection of rectal cancer has been reported to be associated with a significant (10%-60%) rate of sexual and urinary dysfunction. We hypothesize that curative total mesorectal excision (TME) with autonomic nerve preservation (ANP) can be done with high rates of preservation of such function.


We studied prospectively preoperative and postoperative urinary and sexual function in patients who had sphincter-preserving operations for rectal carcinoma without preoperative irradiation. Standardized questionnaires were used preoperatively and postoperatively, including the International Prostatic Symptom Score and a score of quality of urinary function satisfaction. Urodynamic evaluation was performed preoperatively and 3 months after the operation. The sexual results were evaluated after 1 year.


Twenty patients, 13 men and 7 women, had TME, with ANP technique. Fourteen patients had coloanal anastomosis, 4 had a stapled colorectal anastomosis, and 2 had an ileoanal anastomosis. In all patients, hypogastric and sacral splanchnic nerves were identified and preserved. There was no mortality. Tumors are graded by Astler-Coller classification: A1 in 3 cases, A2 in 3, B1 in 7, B2 in 2, C2 in 1, and D in 1. There was no difference in preoperative and postoperative urinary function, International Prostatic Symptom Score, or urodynamic results, nor in the results of the quality of urinary function questionnaire. Four of the 7 women (69%) were sexually active before undergoing the surgical procedure. Sexual activity and ability to achieve orgasm was unchanged in these women. No dyspareunia was reported. Nine of the 13 men (69%) were sexually potent in the preoperative period. Sexual activity and potency were unchanged in these men. Retrograde ejaculation was reported in 1 man who previously had had normal antegrade ejaculation. After 3 months, 4 patients reported a reduced rigidity of erection, returning to normal by 1 year.


The authors conclude that TME and ANP for cancer limited to the mesorectum do not impair urinary and sexual function.

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