At Vanderbilt, we monitor and publish our results in peer reviewed medical journals in an effort to improve continuously. Despite our experience with over 5000 radical prostatectomies, we constantly strive to provide even better results for our patients.
The operation itself typically takes two to three hours and requires one night of hospitalization. The need for a blood transfusion in our patients is less than 1%. Postoperative pain is not typically substantial with robotic prostatectomy and averages less than three on a 10 point scale (1 the least, 10 the most).
The most important measures for most patients undergoing radical prostatectomy are the potential side effects of erectile dysfunction and incontinence and the ability to completely remove the cancer. In out Vanderbilt series, the risk of significant incontinence is less than 2%. Recovery of erectile function after radical prostatectomy is dependent upon patient age at the time of surgery, any preoperative dysfunction, and characteristics of the cancer which may permit a successful nerve sparing procedure. Surgeon experience is important in deciding when nerve sparing is appropriate and in recognizing tissue dissection planes which permit optimal results. Overall, though, most patients can expect to retain adequate erectile function with even better results in younger healthier men.
The ability to completely encompass the prostate and the cancer during surgery is important and obtaining negative surgical margins is a key goal of the surgery. We have published a peer reviewed report of our comparative results for robotic versus open radical prostatectomy. Results with robotic prostatectomy were significantly better and statistically superior.
Comparison of results from one hospital to another is very difficult, even in medical journals. Surgeons and hospitals collect, define, and report results in different ways. There are important rehabilitative steps that can be taken to improve results, though, and our surgical team focuses on educational and informational methods to help obtain optimal results.