It is not unusual for men to experience urinary incontinence. Prostatectomy is one cause, but men who suffer incontinence following a radical prostatectomy do not necessarily have to undergo further surgery to correct this distressing post-surgical complication.
It may be that patients and their physicians are not allowing enough time for the restoration of continence. Korean researchers studied 708 men who had undergone a radical prostatectomy and found that approximately 10% of patients failed to regain continence a year after surgery; however, 56% of these patients regained continence within 54 months. The average time of recovery of continence was 15 months. Although there are no standard guidelines as to when to intervene surgically when incontinence is an issue after a radical prostatectomy, this study shows that it may take longer than a year for some men to regain control of urination.
What factors did the researchers find influenced recovery of bladder control? Age and severity of incontinence were both found to be important factors in determining the likelihood of a return to normal function. Men who were younger at the time of surgery and who needed to use only a single incontinence pad per day were most likely to recover function, while older men who used more than one pad were less likely to regain control of their bladders. In addition, length of the membranous urethra and shape of the prostate were also found to be influencing factors.
This study may prove useful to patients and their physicians when a year has passed after radical prostatectomy and bladder function is still an issue. Rather than another surgery, tincture of time may be all that is needed for some of these patients.