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Eur Urol. 2011 Jan;59(1):1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2010.10.026. Epub 2010 Oct 21.

A prospective trial comparing consecutive series of open retropubic and robot-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy in a centre with a limited caseload.

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Klinik für Urologie, Luzerner Kantonsspital, Lucerne, Switzerland.



Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RALP) is performed worldwide, even in institutions with limited caseloads. However, although the results of large RALP series are available, oncologic and functional outcomes as well as complications from low-caseload centres are lacking.


To compare perioperative, oncologic, and functional outcomes from two consecutive series of patients with localised prostate cancer treated by retropubic radical prostatectomy (RRP) or recently established RALP in our hospital, which has a limited caseload.


One hundred fifty consecutive patients were enrolled. Their data and outcomes were collected and extensively evaluated.


Seventy-five consecutive patients underwent RRP, and 75 consecutive patients underwent RALP, including all patients of the learning curve.


Patient baseline characteristics, perioperative and postoperative outcomes, and complications were evaluated. End points were oncologic data (positive margins, prostate-specific antigen [PSA]), perioperative complications, urinary continence, and erectile function at 3- and 12-mo follow-up.


The preoperative parameters from the two groups were comparable. The positive surgical margin (PSM) rates were 32% for RRP and 16% for RALP (p=0.002). For RRP and RALP, the PSA value was <0.2 ng/ml in 91% and 88% of patients 3 mo postoperatively (p=0.708) and in 87% and 89% of patients 12 mo postoperatively (p=0.36), respectively. Continence rates for RRP and RALP were 83% and 95% at 3-mo follow-up (p=0.003) and 80% and 89% after 12-mo follow-up (p=0.092), respectively. Among patients who were potent without phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5-I) before RRP and RALP, recovery of erectile function with and without PDE5-Is was achieved in 25% (12 of 49 patients) and 68% (25 of 37 patients) 3 mo postoperatively (p=0.009) and in 26% (12 of 47 patients) and 55% (12 of 22 patients) 12 mo postoperatively (p=0.009), respectively. Minimal follow-up for RRP was 12 mo; median follow-up for the RALP group was 12 mo (range: 3-12). According to the modified Clavien system, major complication rates for RRP and RALP were 28% and 7% (p=0.025), respectively; minor complication rates were 24% and 35% (p=0.744), respectively.


Despite a limited caseload and including the learning curve, RALP offers slightly better results than RRP in terms of PSM, major complications, urinary continence, and erectile function.

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