Genitourinary Multidisciplinary Clinic
Lifespan Cancer Institute

The Benefits of Robot-Assisted Surgery

Approaches to prostatectomy include traditional open surgery, conventional laparoscopic surgery, or robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery.

With traditional prostate cancer surgery, the necessary incision is between eight to ten inches long, and patients usually remain in the hospital for as long as five days after surgery. In addition, patients are catheterized for two to three weeks, and there is a risk of side effects.

Minimally invasive, robot-assisted prostate cancer surgery allows for small incisions, less blood loss, and reduced recovery time. Preservation of the nerves necessary for erections can be an extremely important goal for patients. These nerves run alongside the prostate and are often damaged when removing the prostate. A nerve-sparing, robot-assisted prostatectomy attempts to preserve these nerves so that the patient may be able to return to his prior erectile function.

How does robotic prostatectomy work?

The da Vinci Surgical System is a state-of-the-art surgical robot that gives surgeons more precise views of the prostate and surrounding tissue, as well as greater dexterity. The system uses miniature instruments to perform the procedure. A surgeon controls the robot from a remote console that precisely translates his hand, wrist and finger movements to the robotic arms inside the patient while providing a three-dimensional view of those movements.

With the robot, the surgeon makes five keyhole openings rather than the single large incision made during a traditional open prostatectomy. These small openings result in less pain, and a shorter hospital stay. Patients who undergo robot-assisted surgery usually leave the hospital within two days, and some are able to return to normal activities within two weeks after the procedure.

Using the robot, the surgeon removes the prostate and surrounding pelvic lymph nodes (if indicated) through the small openings.

Patient benefits may include:

  • Smaller surgical incisions of one inch or less
  • Less intraoperative blood loss and need for blood transfusion
  • Reduced postoperative pain and discomfort
  • Shorter hospital stay (two days)
  • Shorter catheter duration (seven to 10 days)
  • Faster overall recovery

Understanding Your Options