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Robotics Fine-Tuning Prostate Surgery: May 14, 2014

Since being introduced just over a decade ago, robotic prostate surgery has made a big impact. The da Vinci surgical system is now used to perform as many as 4 out of 5 radical prostatectomies in the U.S.

“The main benefits that pushed these techniques on the surgical scene was the fact that there was less blood loss and also shorter hospital stays,” says Lee Memorial staff urologist Dr. Blake Evans. “Mainly because of the visualization.”

Robotic surgery is similar to laparoscopic which allow doctors to operate through a series of small poke holes. Instead of sitting over the patient, doctors work at a console which gives them 3D, hi-def vision. The da Vinci is designed with enhanced movement, giving surgeons a full range of wrist motions.

“We don't have to make a big incision to operate. The purpose of the robot is to allow us to use wristed instruments, which allows us to suture a lot easier.”

A recent review comparing traditional open procedures and robot-assisted prostate surgery found the robot offered strengths in patient comfort and doctor control. The surgeries were evenly matched in terms of overall success.

“The data has not supported the fact that it's a better operation but it’s definitely a way for us to operate in the pelvis easier,” Dr. Evans says. “And also the patient gets out of the hospital quicker.”

Based on the fine-tuning it offers, some evidence suggests robotic surgery decreases the need for additional treatment within two years.