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J Urol. 2005 Sep;174(3):912-4; discussion 914.

Robotic assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy versus retropubic radical prostatectomy: a prospective assessment of postoperative pain.

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Department of Urologic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2765, USA.



Laparoscopic prostatectomy, whether or not coupled with robotic assistance, is often considered less invasive than open radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP). Minimal postoperative pain has been reported following robot assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP) but there have been few comparative studies with RRP. We compared perioperative narcotic use and patient reported pain in a prospective patient series.


Between June 2003 and May 2004, 314 patients underwent radical prostatectomy at our institution, including RALP in 159, RRP in 154 and conversion in 1. All patients were treated on a postoperative clinical pathway that included 30 mg ketorolac intravenously immediately postoperatively, followed by 15 mg intravenously every 6 hours. No regional anesthesia (epidural/spinal) narcotics or patient controlled analgesic pumps were used. All narcotic use was converted to morphine sulfate equivalents for purpose of analysis. A Likert scale of 0 to 10 was used to assess pain on the day of surgery, and on postoperative days 1 and 14.


The total mean morphine sulfate equivalent +/- SD in patients in the RALP and RRP groups was low and, when corrected for length of stay, it was not statistically different (22.41 +/- 1.13 vs 23.01 +/- 1.16 mg, p = 0.72). Mean Likert pain perception scores were low at all time points in the RALP and RRP groups but statistically lower on the day of surgery in the RALP cohort (2.05 +/- 1.99 vs 2.60 +/- 2.25, p = 0.027). Patient reported mean pain scores were almost identical for RALP vs RRP on postoperative days 1 (1.76 +/- 1.87 vs 1.73 +/- 1.77, p = 0.880) and 14 (2.51 +/- 1.91 vs 2.42 +/- 1.84, p = 0.722).


Perioperative narcotic use and patient reported pain are low regardless of the surgical approach used for radical prostatectomy. RALP did not provide a clinically meaningful decrease in pain compared with RRP, primarily because of the low pain scores reported in each group. Outcomes other than pain will ultimately determine the role of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and RALP.

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