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J Urol. 2003 Apr;169(4):1443-8.

Temporal trends in radical prostatectomy complications from 1991 to 1998.

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  • 1Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California-Los Angeles, USA.



We performed a retrospective, longitudinal, population based study to ascertain whether radical prostatectomy outcomes improved after the diffusion of surgical innovations during the last decade.


Using a 5% national random sample of Medicare beneficiaries we identified 12,079 men who underwent radical prostatectomy from 1991 to 1998. We analyzed relevant Medicare data to establish length of stay and the rate of in hospital complications (cardiac, respiratory, vascular, wound and genitourinary conditions) as well as the rate of anastomotic stricture, incontinence and impotence through 36 months after surgery. We performed multivariate logistic regression to control for age, race and geographic region when assessing the association of surgery year with outcomes of interest.


Between 1991 and 1998 the in hospital complication rate decreased from 38% to 30% and mean length of stay decreased from 8.1 to 5.1 days. Each value had significant regional variation throughout the United States. The 3-year incontinence rate decreased from 20% in 1991 to 4% in 1995. However, no meaningful trends were observed in the rate of impotence, anastomotic stricture, or placement of artificial urinary sphincters or penile prostheses. On multivariate analysis, older age (75 years or older, OR 1.68, p <0.01) and nonwhite race (OR 1.35, p <0.01) were associated with more in hospital complications. Nonwhite patients were also more likely to be diagnosed with impotence (OR 1.25, p <0.01) and undergo penile prosthesis placement (OR 1.5, p <0.01).


As urologists reach consensus on the ideal clinical characteristics for radical prostatectomy candidates, surgery in fewer elderly patients and the dissemination of surgical advances have been associated with shorter length of stay, fewer in hospital complications and a lower long-term incontinence rate. However, there is capacity for improvement, as evidenced by the unchanging rate of anastomotic stricture and impotence.

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