Men given the drug a day before prostatectomy had improved erectile function for at least a year.
Men with normal erectile function who receive erythropoietin a day before undergoing nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy may have better recovery of erectile function after surgery, according to investigators.
A research team led by Arthur L. Burnett, MD, of The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, studied two groups of men undergoing the surgical procedure: a treatment group of 15 men who opted to receive erythropoietin treatment (40,000 IU subcutaneously in a single injection on their preoperative day) and a control group of 21 men who elected postoperative standard surveillance only. The men could use phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors if they wished.
Preoperatively and at three, six, and 12 months after surgery, the investigators evaluated potency using the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5) questionnaires. The two groups had similar comorbidities and erectile function status.
The treatment group showed significantly higher postoperative IIEF-5 scores than controls at all follow-up visits with or without the use of PDE-5 inhibitors, the researchers reported in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (2008; published online ahead of print).
At 12 months, the proportions of men performing sexual activity were 87% and 68% for the treatment and controls groups, respectively, but the difference was not significant. The treatment group, however, had a significantly better ability to perform sexual intercourse with minimal or no difficulty.