Prevalence and impact of incontinence and impotence following total prostatectomy assessed anonymously by the ICS-male questionnaire

T. S. Bates*, M. P J Wright, D. A. Gillatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of incontinence and impotence in patients following total prostatectomy and assess the impact their symptoms have on their quality of life. Patients and Methods: Between 1987 and 1994, one surgeon performed retropubic total prostatectomies on 89 patients, of which 87 were available for follow-up. All patients were sent an ICS-male questionnaire. Patients' ages ranged from 49 to 73 years (median 65). The interval between surgery and completing the questionnaire ranged from 7 to 87 months (median 22). Results: The response rate was 95%. No patients reported incontinence pre-operatively. Postoperatively, 69% (57/83) of patients suffered to some degree of leakage of urine and 24% (29/83) used pads. Of these, 60% used 1 pad per day, 15% 2 pads and 25% (5 patients) used 3 or more. Nocturnal incontinence was reported by 20% of patients. Urinary incontinence was considered a problem in only 34% (28/83) of patients. Sixty-five percent of patients using pads considered urinary leakage to be a problem, but only 1 considered it a serious problem. 89% claimed to have been potent prior to surgery. The overall postoperative potency rate was 41% (30/74) in those potent pre-operatively. However, 67% of patients reporting potency had severely reduced rigidity, and only 12% (9/74) achieved what they considered full erections. Ten percent of all patients considered postoperative impotence to be a serious problem, and 47% stated that it was not a problem at all. Conclusions: The incidence of incontinence and impotence following total prostatectomy is higher than earlier reports suggest, but the impact of these complications appears to be surprisingly low. These results allow patients to be given realistic expectations when counselled prior to this operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Impotence
  • Incontinence
  • Prostate cancer
  • Prostatectomy
  • Quality of life


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