Robotic Surgery for Prostate Cancer

Robotic surgery for prostate cancer at a glance

  • Robotic surgery for prostate cancer is a minimally invasive, computer-assisted method of removing prostate cancer cells using the pin-point precision of advanced robotics.
  • During this procedure, known as a robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy or a robotic-assisted prostatectomy, the surgeon operates the robotic device from a console near the operating table.
  • The surgeon controls the robotic arms that perform all incisions and actions throughout the surgery.
  • Robotic surgery gives the surgeon increased visibility of the area, increased mobility and the ability to work in confined places and execute movements not possible by the human hand alone.
  • Pacific Urology uses the da Vinci system to perform robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALRP) and robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy.
  • Other advantages of robotic surgery for prostate cancer include reduced recovery time, blood loss and overall pain.

What is robotic surgery for prostate cancer?

Robotic surgery for prostate cancer is a minimally invasive way to remove prostate cancer cells or the entire prostate utilizing computer-assisted robotic instruments that are more versatile than a surgeon’s hands alone. Laparoscopy involves small incisions through which a camera and instruments are inserted, and radical prostatectomy involves complete removal of the prostate and some surrounding tissue.

This surgical approach makes more incisions than other surgeries, but they are smaller and less invasive. Pacific Urology performs robotic surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System, which is considered the best robotic surgical system and is used by more surgeons than any other brand.

During robotic surgery for prostate cancer, a surgeon makes several small incisions in the lower abdomen. The surgeon uses the da Vinci’s surgical arms to remove the prostate, as well as some surrounding nerves if the cancer is spreading. Usually a patient will stay overnight in a hospital or surgery center for an RALRP and return home the next day.

Prostate cancer used to be treated primarily by making a large incision in the lower abdomen in a procedure called a radical retropubic prostatectomy. This procedure requires longer hospital stays and is being performed less and less — due in part to advancements in prostate cancer treatment such as robotic surgery.

Advantages of robotic surgery for prostate cancer

A patient undergoing robotic surgery for prostate cancer will experience less blood loss, pain, need for medications, less chance of complications and less time to recover. A robotic surgery procedure allows a surgeon to perform more advanced moves and increased mobility compared with a non-robotic assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy or traditional open surgery. The surgeon also has a magnified view of the surgical site allowing for a better view throughout the surgery.

Recovery times for robotic surgeries are generally much shorter than recovery times from other surgical options for treating prostate cancer. Following the surgery a patient usually stays one night in the hospital. In the weeks following surgery patients should avoid sitting for extended periods and should try to get up and walk around frequently, as this keeps blood flowing and reduces the risk of blood clots. At least two weeks are typically required before returning to work.

Risks and considerations of robotic surgery for prostate cancer

Surgery of any kind may result in complications such as infections and unexpected anesthesia reactions. Even though da Vinci and other robotic surgeries are considerably less intrusive than traditional methods, robotic surgery methods come with a particular set of considerations.

Risks specific to robotic surgery may include extensive operating times that require elevated anesthesia. Robotic surgery can also, in rare cases, cause short-term nerve damage. Many men and their families are concerned about the side effects of prostate cancer surgery.

There are side effects related to all prostate cancer treatments. You should discuss your concerns with your physician and choose the treatment that is best for you.

The most important variable in treating prostate cancer is the skill and experience of the surgeon. Performing robotic surgery requires special, extended training. Robotic surgery for prostate cancer may not be appropriate for every patient. The physician and patient should discuss all concerns and address all questions before the surgery.