The Effect of Nerve Sparing Status on Sexual and Urinary Function: 3-Year Results from the CEASAR Study

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Nerve sparing contributes to the recovery of sexual and urinary function after radical prostatectomy but it may be ineffective in some patients or carry the risk of a positive surgical margin. We evaluated sexual and urinary function outcomes according to the degree of nerve sparing in patients with prostate cancer treated with radical prostatectomy.

Materials and Methods:

The CEASAR (Comparative Effectiveness Analysis of Surgery and Radiation) study is a prospective, population based, observational study of men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer in 2011 to 2012. Patient reported sexual and urinary functions were measured using the 26-item Expanded Prostate Index Composite at baseline within 6 months after diagnosis, and 6, 12 and 36 months after enrollment. Study inclusion criteria included radical prostatectomy as primary treatment, documentation of nerve sparing status and absent androgen deprivation therapy. Nerve sparing status was defined as none, unilateral or bilateral according to the operative report.


The final analytical cohort included 991 men. The 11 men treated with unilateral nerve sparing and the 75 treated with a nonnerve sparing procedure were grouped together. In the multivariable model there was a significant difference in the sexual function score 3 years after radical prostatectomy in the bilateral nerve sparing group compared with the unilateral and nonnerve sparing group (6.1 points, 95% CI 2.0–10.3, p = 0.004). This was more pronounced in men with high baseline sexual function (8.23 points, 95% CI 1.6–14.8, p = 0.014) but not in those with low baseline function (4.0 points, 95% CI –0.6–8.7, p = 0.090). Similar effects were demonstrated on urinary incontinence scores.


Bilateral nerve sparing resulted in better sexual and urinary function outcomes than unilateral or nonnerve sparing but the difference was not significant in men with low baseline sexual function.

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