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Urology. 2009 Mar;73(3):567-71. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2008.11.011. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Comparative analysis of surgical margins between radical retropubic prostatectomy and RALP: are patients sacrificed during initiation of robotics program?

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  • 1Urologic Consortium, Metro Health, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, USA.



To compare the incidence of positive surgical margins obtained with robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP), during the initiation of a robotics program, with that from a similarly matched cohort of open radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) cases as performed by a single surgeon.


From December 2005 to March 2008, 63 patients underwent RRP and another 50 underwent RALP by a single urologist. The records were retrospectively reviewed, and 50 RRP patients were selected from the RRP group whose records were similar to the records of the 50 patients who had undergone RALP. We compared the incidence of positive surgical margins and the location of positive margins among the 2 groups. Additional variables evaluated included the preoperative prostate-specific antigen level, preoperative Gleason score, clinical stage, postoperative Gleason score, tumor volume, and pathologic stage.


The positive margin rate for the RRP group was 36% compared with 22% for the RALP group (P = .007). The incidence of positive margins for pathologic Stage pT2c disease in the RALP group was 22.8% compared with 42.8% in the RRP group, a statistically significant difference (P = .006). Fewer positive margins were found in the RALP Gleason score 7 group than in the RRP group, 29% vs 60%, again a statistically significant difference (P = .003).


We present our series comparing a single urologist's positive margin rates during the learning curve of a robotics program with his experience of a similarly matched cohort of RRP patients. A statistically significant lower positive margin rate can be achieved in RALP patients even during the learning period.

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