Objectives. To determine whether arbitrary minor variances in surgical technique can have a major impact on the recovery of sexual function after radical retropubic prostatectomy.Methods. The surgical procedures of 62 potent men were videotaped prospectively. Eighteen months after the study was initiated, the videotapes were reviewed and specific steps in the surgical procedure correlated with patient-reported potency rates.Results. Four steps were identified that appeared to correlate with the recovery of sexual function: oversewing back-bleeders from the proximal dorsal vein on the anterior surface of the prostate, division of the striated sphincter when placing urethral sutures, division of the posterior striated sphincter, and hemostasis at the end of the case.Conclusions. We believe that retrospective review of intraoperative videotapes has great promise. Because many surgeons use different techniques, it is likely that each individual may be able to identify other important arbitrary variations that may improve their patients' outcomes. Similarly, for surgeons with less than optimal outcomes, the review of early successful cases may enable them to identify ways that modification of their surgical technique can improve the outcome of future patients. To the best of our knowledge, the use of retrospective review of intraoperative videotapes has not been commonly used in any other surgical field. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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