Preserving potency through intraoperative fresh-frozen section analysis
The prostate is directly surrounded by vital functional nerve tissue. This delicate nerve bundle controls erections and is therefore needed to preserve potency. If it is possible to spare this delicate neurovascular structure during surgery by carefully separating it from the prostate, millimetre by millimetre, erectile function can be preserved in the vast majority of cases.
At present, no procedure has been developed that can provide this crucial information before surgery with a degree of precision that meets our standards for patient safety. It is certainly not possible to detect the spread of a tumour into the neurovascular bundles with the naked eye with any degree of certainty.
Fresh-frozen section analysis – the Martini-Klinik NeuroSAFE technique
In order to spare the patient’s nerves during surgery and therefore preserve their potency, the Martini-Klinik has developed a procedure to fully investigate the removed prostate’s contact surfaces with the neurovascular bundle. This intraoperative fresh-frozen section analysis helps surgeons make decisions during surgery and is known as the NeuroSAFE technique. Once the prostate has been removed, the surgeon removes the edges of the organ in the operating theatre. This tissue immediately undergoes microscopic analysis at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf’s Institute of Pathology, which specialises in prostate cancer. Around 30 minutes later, the pathologist telephones the surgeon with the results. If the edges of the prostate are tumour-free, the neurovascular bundles can be preserved. However, if cancer cells are detected in these areas, parts of the affected neurovascular bundle must be removed during the remainder of the operation to treat the tumour effectively. Thanks to the NeuroSAFE technique, only the nerve tissue actually affected by the tumour is removed. Healthy tissue can be safely left untouched.
At the Martini-Klinik, the NeuroSAFE technique enables us to operate successfully on over 98% of all tumours localised in the organ while sparing the nerves – a figure few other clinics around the world can match.