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J Urol. 2005 Jul;174(1):269-72.

Robotic radical prostatectomy in the community setting--the learning curve and beyond: initial 200 cases.

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Urology Centers of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.



The introduction of robotic assistance has the potential to improve surgical outcomes and reduce the steep learning curve associated with conventional laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. We report on our experience with robotic radical prostatectomy in the community setting.


A total of 200 patients underwent robotic radical prostatectomy during 18 months. Prospective data collection included a quality of life (Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite) questionnaire, basic demographics, prostate specific antigen (PSA), clinical stage and Gleason grade. Operative outcome measures included operative time, estimated blood loss and complications. Postoperative outcome measures included hospital stay, catheter time, pathology, PSA and return of continence.


Average operative time was 141 minutes with an estimated blood loss of 75 cc. The intraoperative complication rate was 1% with no mortality, reexploration or transfusion. Of the patients 95% were discharged home on postoperative day 1 (1 to 3) with hematocrit averaging 34.5 (range 25 to 45). The average difference in preoperative and postoperative hematocrit was 3 points (range -2 to 15). Average catheter time was 7.2 days (range 5 to 15). The positive margin rate was 10.5% for the entire series, 5.7% for T2 tumors, 28.5% (T3a), 20% (T3b) and 33% (T4a). Of the patients 95% had undetectable PSA (less than 0.1 ng/ml) at average followup of 9.7 months. Continence at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months was 47%, 78%, 89%, 92% and 98%, respectively.


Our initial experience with robotic radical prostatectomy is promising. The learning curve was approximately 20 to 25 cases. With a structured methodical approach we were able to implement robotics safely and effectively into our community practice with minimal patient morbidity, and good oncological and functional outcomes.

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