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World J Urol. 2013 Jun;31(3):489-97. doi: 10.1007/s00345-013-1053-z. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical cystectomy: history, techniques and outcomes.

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  • 1Division of Urology, Department of Surgery, UC San Diego Health System, San Diego, CA, USA.



Robotic-assisted radical cystectomy (RARC) is a less invasive means of performing the radical cystectomy operation, which holds promise for improved patient morbidity. We review the history, technique and current literature pertaining to RARC and place the current results in context with the open procedure.


All articles regarding RARC found in PubMed after January 2000 were examined. We selected articles that appeared in high-impact journals, had large patient population size (>80 patients), or were novel in technique or findings. We chose key laparoscopic articles to give reference to the history in transition to robotic radical cystectomy. In addition, we chose classic articles from open radical cystectomy to give reference regarding the newer robotic perioperative outcomes.


Studies suggest that a 20-patient learning curve is needed to reach an operative time of 6.5 h, with 30 surgeries performed to reach lymph node counts in excess of 20 (International Robotic Cystectomy Consortium). The only randomized surgical trial comparing open and robotic techniques showed equivalent lymph node yield, which may be surgeon and volume dependent. Literature demonstrates lower estimated blood loss, transfusion rates, early return of bowel function and decreased complications in early small series.


RARC and urinary diversion are still early in development and limited to centers with extensive robotic experience and volume, although adoption of the robotic approach is becoming more common. Early studies have shown promise to reduce complications with equivalent oncologic results.

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