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Curr Opin Urol. 2005 Mar;15(2):79-82.

Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy: the learning curve.

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Clinics University of Brussels, Department of Urology, Erasme Hospital, 808 route de Lennik, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium.



Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is now an accepted treatment option for the management of localized prostate cancer. Numerous studies have demonstrated the feasibility and the reproducibility of this procedure. Expert teams in high-volume centres routinely carry out laparoscopic radical prostatectomy but for the novice the obstacle to success is how to learn and gain proficiency in this procedure. In this review, we will present our views on how this can be done.


A learning curve includes the necessity for continuous self-evaluation in terms of cancer control, continence and potency. Many different methods can be used to acquire the technique: dry lab, animal live lab, cadaveric laparoscopic dissection or mentoring with an expert. All of these steps may not be essential as laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is not too dissimilar to open prostatectomy. However, one must understand that the physiological consequences of anaesthesia during laparoscopy and basic laparoscopic suturing technique should be perfected prior to taking on laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. The training then must continue under the supervision of a mentor. The opportunity for discussion with an expert allows the novice to learn the pitfalls and the tips and tricks of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, thus reducing the length of the learning curve and negating the need to reinvent the wheel.


Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is similar to any other new surgical procedure and as with open surgery we learn and gain experience with each procedure; the learning curve is never completely finished.

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