Robotic assisted radical prostatectomy is a major operation in which the prostate gland is completely removed. It is used to treat prostate cancer using minimally invasive techniques with assistance of a robotic interface. It is essentially the same operation as the open operation but potentially offers a more rapid recovery because of the “keyhole” technique.
The prostate gland is removed via six small abdominal incisions. The procedure involves removing the prostate and then reconnecting the bladder to the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder via the penis).
The surgery is facilitated by the da Vinci robotic unit. This unit is completely controlled by the surgeon and provides the surgeon with a 3-dimensional view of the prostatic gland and surrounding structures. It has additional “arms” allowing the use of robotically controlled articulating instruments to perform the surgery. These instruments mimic the surgeon’s natural hand movements, which make some aspects of the procedure easier to perform.
However, it should be noted that most literature suggests the outcomes of the robotic, pure laparoscopic and open radical prostatectomy in terms of cancer control, continence and potency are similar. Patients should also be aware that no matter how small the incisions, robotic assisted radical prostatectomy is still a major and complex operation and typically takes 2-4 hours to perform.