Tuesday 28 June 2022 12:42 AM Nerve wrap targets the post-op impotence that can jeopardise sex lives trends now
Wraps made from human placenta could reduce the risk of men being left impotent after prostate cancer surgery.
The wraps, which come from placental tissue normally discarded when a woman has given birth, are folded around the delicate nerves that control a man’s erections.
This is done during cancer surgery to remove the prostate — a procedure which can damage the sensitive nerves, leaving men impotent afterwards.
The tissue, called amnion, is a tough, flexible membrane that forms the innermost layer of the placenta — the source of nutrients and oxygen for a baby in the womb.
Wrapping it around the nerves not only protects them physically but amnion tissue also contains a cocktail of different compounds — including growth factors and stem cells — that can help to repair any nerve damage done during the operation.
Around 5,000 men a year in the UK undergo a radical prostatectomy (where the whole prostate and a small amount of surrounding tissue is removed) to try to get rid of cancer
Animal studies also suggest these compounds dampen down any harmful inflammation as they leak out of the placental tissue.
Now research shows the technique speeds up the rate at which men recover their sexual function after the operation, called a radical prostatectomy.
Around 5,000 men a year in the UK undergo a radical prostatectomy (where the whole prostate and a small amount of surrounding tissue is removed) to try to get rid of cancer.
Although modern operating techniques — known as nerve-sparing surgery — can reduce the risks, the charity Prostate Cancer UK estimates that up to 80 per cent of men undergoing prostate removal later experience erectile dysfunction severe enough to jeopardise their sex lives and put their relationships under strain.
The challenge for surgeons is that the area around the prostate is a dense forest of nerves that control erections, as well as urinary continence. Any accidental damage or bruising to them can result in incontinence or impotence.
Research suggests many men struggle with what they see as a loss of their masculinity, due to the impact of the surgery on their sex lives — with more than two-thirds claiming they would rather live shorter lives if it meant they could be sexually active again.
Wraps made from human placenta could reduce the risk of men being left impotent after prostate cancer surgery
But the placenta wraps could be an unlikely solution.
After birth, the placental tissue is sterilised and dried out, instead of being thrown away.
When a surgeon then uses it during prostate surgery, the dehydrated wraps become moist on contact with blood and other bodily fluids — instantly sticking to the bundles of nerves without the need for stitches. After use during the surgery the wrap is removed.
A recent study in the Journal of Robotic Surgery, by U.S. researchers from Harvard University, the University of Central Florida and the State University of New York, involving