Complications

serious, even life-threatening, and the wall must be surgically repaired. In the past, it occurred in 2 percent of cases but today is much less common.

Urinary retention and long-term incontinence also used to be common, occurring in up to two thirds of cases, but more recent studies have reported an incontinence rate of less than 10 percent.

The most frequent complication is impotence, since it is virtually impossible to freeze the prostate without freezing the adjacent nerves, arteries, and veins running to the penis. One study reported an impotence rate of 87 percent among men who had been potent prior to cryotherapy. As one review summarizes the data, ''Cryo-therapy is associated with higher rates of impotence than are most other localized treatment alternatives.''1

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