Taking irbesartan regularly after nerve-sparing radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) may help men recover their erectile function and retain some stretched penile length, according to a new study. The findings apply to men who had normal erectile function before surgery.
Irbesartan, an angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) is often used to treat high blood pressure. It helps prevent the tightening of blood vessels so that blood can travel more freely.
Erectile dysfunction is common after RRP. The nerves that surround the prostate gland are critical for erections. While surgeons take great care to preserve them, there is still the possibility of damage.
Blood flow is also critical for erectile function. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore wanted to know whether protecting blood vessels in the penis could help patients regain erectile function after surgery, as previous research had shown high blood pressure medications helpful for strengthening blood vessels.
Twenty-nine men participated in the study. All had normal erectile function before RRP. Seventeen were given 300 mg of oral irbesartan daily. The remaining twelve declined treatment with irbesartan and served as a control group.
Erectile function was evaluated before surgery and at 3-month, 12-month, and 24-month intervals after surgery. Researchers used the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5) for this measurement.
Stretched penile length was measured immediately after surgery and at the 3-month follow up.
At 24 months, the IIEF-5 scores of the two groups were statistically similar. But at 12 months, the group taking irbesartan had significantly higher scores than the control group, indicating better erectile function.
At 3-months, the men who took irbesartan lost less stretched penile length than the men who did not take the drug.
The authors concluded that regular use of irbesartan may benefit certain men after nerve-sparing RRP in terms of erectile function and stretched penile length. However, the authors noted that prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm the results.
The study was published in the March 30, 2012 online edition of BJU International.
Segal, Robert L., et al.
“Irbesartan promotes erection recovery after nerve-sparing radical retropubic prostatectomy: a retrospective long-term analysis”
(Abstract. First published online: March 30, 2012)
Prostate Cancer Discovery (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
“Hypertension Drugs May Speed, Strengthen Nerve Recovery after Surgery”
(Last revision: July 15, 2011)
Renal and Urology News
Charnow, Jody A.
“Irbesartan May Preserve Erectile Function After RRP”
(April 10, 2012)