Home E-Weekly January 30, 2018

Experimental Surgery Treats Erectile Dysfunction

Published: January 30, 2018

TREAT ED IN THE OR? Half of men over the age of 40 suffer from ED, according to the American Urological Association.

Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) might soon be able to undergo an experimental nerve transfer procedure that promises to reenergizes their sex life and turn outpatient facilities on to new business opportunities.

Reconstructive plastic surgeons Eric Wimmers, MD, and Andrew Elkwood, MD, FACS, performed what's believed to be the first procedure of its kind on a police officer who was struck by a drunk driver while arresting another person for driving under the influence. The officer's hip fractures and severe pelvic trauma damaged the cavernous nerve, which creates an erection.

The procedure involves grafting the genitofemoral nerve, which causes the scrotum to tighten and pull up, to the cavernous nerve. Drs. Wimmers and Elkwood isolated the genitofemoral nerve, confirmed its location with intraoperative electromyography and rotated it about 3 cm through a subcutaneous tunnel to the cavernous nerve. Although the procedure is considered groundbreaking, Dr. Wimmers says there's nothing new about its technical aspects.

The patient, who went home the day of surgery, is recovering nicely, says Dr. Wimmers. He says the patient claims the procedure has caused less discomfort — he was off pain medications a week after surgery — than the pelvic reconstructive procedures he has endured.

Dr. Wimmers expects the transferred genitofemoral nerve to grow into the recipient site at the cavernous nerve between 3 and 6 months post-op, at which time the patient can attempt to have sex again. He says the minimally invasive surgery is suited for the outpatient setting and has the potential to treat ED caused by prostate cancer, prostatectomy surgery, radiation treatment of prostate cancer and diabetes.

"The floodgates will open once we demonstrate positive results," says Dr. Wimmers. "There are millions of men with this problem."

Daniel Cook

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