Surgery, as part of your treatment plan for prostate cancer, will involve removing the entire prostate. This surgery is called a radical prostatectomy. If indicated, your surgeon may also remove lymph nodes within the pelvis as well. This surgery was traditionally done with an open approach, which involved a large incision in your lower abdomen.
Over the last two decades, there have been significant advances in technology that has changed the surgical treatment of prostate cancer. Minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopic surgery, has become a more popular approach to prostate cancer surgery. Laparoscopic surgery allows surgeons to remove the prostate with only a few small incisions that result in less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery.
The da Vinci robotic system was successfully introduced to assist surgeons with performing minimally invasive radical prostatectomy. It has become the most common way radical prostatectomies are performed in the United States. The technology uses a high-definition 3-D vision system enabling the surgeon to efficiently zoom, rotate, or change the image orientation. The resulting 3-D image is bright and clear.
The da Vinci robotic system also uses specialized instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand. The surgeon controls the robotic arms from the da Vinci console using natural hand and wrist movements. The technology interprets the surgeon's movements and directs the instruments inside the body to take proportionally precise movements allowing for greater accuracy than achievable with laparoscopic surgery. Plus, the enhanced range-of-motion of the robotic instruments allow surgeons to operate more safely within confined spaces like the pelvis.
Robotic radical prostatectomy has been performed for two decades and proven to offer several benefits compared to traditional open surgery. For instance, less blood loss and the need for a blood infusion post-surgery, and a lower risk of infection around the wound. Hospital stays are also shorter since most patients only need a one-night hospital stay. Regarding surgical outcomes, there are similar cancer control rates between robotic radical prostatectomy and open radical prostatectomy. There is also a better chance for a return of erectile function and return of urinary continence within six months.
Emory Healthcare's urology surgeons have extensive experience with robotic radical prostatectomies and complete additional fellowship training in robotic surgery. Robotic radical prostatectomies are available at Emory University Hospital, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital, and Emory Johns Creek Hospital.