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Urol Ann. 2010 May;2(2):58-62. doi: 10.4103/0974-7796.65107.

Does nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy increase the risk of positive surgical margins and biochemical progression?

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Division of Urology, Department of Surgical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.



Since the introduction of nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy (NSRP), there have been concerns about the increased risks of positive surgical margins (PSM) and biochemical progression (BP). We examined the relationship of NSRP with PSM and BP using a large, mature dataset.


Patients who underwent RP for clinically localized prostate cancer at our center between 1997 and 2008 were identified. Patients who received neoadjuvant therapy were excluded. We examined the relation of NSRP to the rate of PSM and BP in univariate and multivariate analyses adjusting for clinical and pathological variables including age, pretreatment prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and doubling time, and pathological stage and grade.


In total, 856 patients were included, 70.9% underwent NSRP and 29.1% had non-NSRP. PSM rates were 13.5% in the NSRP group compared to 17.7% in non-NSRP (P=0.11). In a multivariate analysis, non-NSRP was preformed in patients with a higher pathological stage (HR 1.95, 95% CI 1.25-3.04, P=0.003) and a higher baseline PSA level (HR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.08, P=0.005). With a median follow-up of 41 months, BP-free survival was 88% for non-NSRP compared to 92% for the NSRP group (log rank P=0.018); this difference was not significant in a multivariate Cox regression analysis (HR 0.54, 95% CI 0.28-1.06, P=0.09).


When used in properly selected patients, NSRP does not seem to increase the risk of PSM and disease progression. The most effective way of resolving this issue is through a randomized clinical trial; however, such a trial is not feasible.


Radical prostatectomy; biochemical progression; nerve-sparing; positive surgical margins

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