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Curr Urol Rep. 2013 Aug;14(4):279-84. doi: 10.1007/s11934-013-0341-x.

Colorectal surgery and its impact on male sexual function.

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  • 1Institute of Urology, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01805, USA.


The quality of functional outcome has become increasingly important in view of improvement in prognosis with colorectal cancer patients. Sexual dysfunction remains a common problem after colorectal cancer treatment, despite the good oncologic outcomes achieved by expert surgeons. Although radiotherapy and chemotherapy contribute, surgical nerve damage is the main cause of sexual dysfunction. The autonomic nerves are in close contact with the visceral pelvic fascia that surrounds the mesorectum. The concept of total mesorectal excision (TME) in rectal cancer treatment has led to a substantial improvement of autonomic nerve preservation. In addition, use of laparoscopy has allowed favorable results with regards to sexual function. The present paper describes the anatomy and pathophysiology of autonomic pelvic nerves, prevalence of sexual dysfunction, and the surgical technique of nerve preservation in order to maintain sexual function.

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