The feasibility of sparing postganglionic fibers of lumbar sympathetic nerves during the course of retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy has been investigated at our university medical center beginning in 1978. We selected 75 patients for nerve-sparing retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy in an effort to preserve ejaculatory function postoperatively. This cohort of patients was selected on the bases of clinical stage. Of the 75 patients 73 had clinical stage I disease. However, 14 of these 73 patients had pathological stage II cancer. No patient was treated with adjuvant chemotherapy after nerve-sparing retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy. Of these 14 patients with pathological stage II disease 4 had relapse: 1 with proved retroperitoneal recurrence, and 3 with serological elevations of tumor markers and questionable clinical findings as to anatomical site of relapse. All 4 patients are free of disease after chemotherapy and/or surgical (1) rescue. There were no local recurrences in the 61 patients with negative nodes. All 75 patients ejaculate and had no evidence of disease more than 2 years after nerve-sparing retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy. It is clear that nerve-sparing retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy is a feasible technique. As noted, it can even be applied to selected patients with low volume positive nodes, yet maintaining relapse and survival figures that are acceptable. Ejaculation is reliably preserved when this nerve-sparing technique is applied accurately in retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy.
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