Learn more about robot-assisted surgery

September 21, 2012 9:33 am

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Written by
Ask the Expert
Samuel Kim

Q. What is robot-assisted prostatectomy?
A. The prostate is part of the male reproductive anatomy. It is about the size of a walnut, and is located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. Radical prostatectomy is the removal of the prostate when it is cancerous. Robot-assisted prostatectomy is a minimally invasive way to perform the same surgery using leading edge technology.
Q. How does robot-assisted prostatectomy work?
A. Your surgeon performs the surgery with the assistance of the da Vinci Surgical System. The surgeon uses an operating console and a high definition viewing screen to direct the robots surgical arms to perform the operation. The robot translates the surgeon’s console movements into scaled-down, highly precise movements.
The procedure is performed through five or six small incision, about 1-2 cm in size each, versus a traditional 8-10 inch abdominal incision.
Q. What are the benefits of robot-assisted prostatectomy?
A. Both the patient and surgeon benefit from using the da Vinci Surgical System to assist with prostatectomy. The surgeon uses the robot to reduce incision size and for greater precision during surgery. The patient will likely have less blood loss, risk of infection and pain, and a shorter hospital stay.
Q. How long is the recovery time for robot-assisted prostatectomy?
A. A typical hospital stay for traditional open prostatectomy patients is two to four days, while most robot-assisted prostatectomy patients go home in one or two days and return to light activity within seven days and full activity within one month. After open prostatectomy, full recovery can take six weeks or more.
Recovery of impotence and incontinence takes time with both procedures, but recent studies show that robot-assisted prostatectomy may offer a lower incidence of these side-effects.
Q. How do you select patients for the robot-assisted procedure?
A. Your surgeon will decide whether you are a candidate for robot-assisted surgery, but in general anybody who is a candidate for open or laparoscopic surgery might also be a candidate for robot-assisted surgery.
Men who have trouble breathing or who do not tolerate anesthesia well are not good candidates. Men who have had multiple abdominal surgeries are usually better candidates for open prostatectomy.
Q. Where can I learn more?
A. I’ll be discussing robotic surgery with an emphasis on men’s health at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the South Tower Atrium at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
We’ll have the robot set up for people to see and touch the system up close. The program will last less than one hour with plenty of time for questions. Register by calling 741-1073 or (800) 237-9625.
Samuel Kim, MD, is a surgeon at Urology Associates and a member of the IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital medical staff. He is certified by the American Board of Urology and a member of the American Urological Society.

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