UW Hospital Surgeon Performs 200th Robotic Prostatectomy

MADISON - Roger Beauchaine hadn't expected to be a milestone. He just wanted to treat the cancerous tumor his primary-care physician unexpectedly detected in his prostate gland in mid-May.
But on July 31, Beauchaine, a 53-year-old owner of a Lake Geneva water treatment company, became the 200th patient to undergo a robotic prostatectomy at UW Hospital and Clinics, in a surgery performed by David Jarrard, MD.
"My recovery has been amazing," says Beauchaine, who is now, nearly three weeks after his surgery, cancer-free. "I can't believe how fast it's been."
A New Standard of Care
For Jarrard, the milestone is another indication that a technique that was revolutionary as little as a year ago has quickly advanced to become the standard of care. Dr. Jarrard, a urologic surgeon and member of the UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, performed the first robotic prostatectomy at UW Hospital in March of 2006. He routinely does four to five robotic surgeries a week.
"The cancer outcomes with the robot are similar to an open prostatectomy," says Dr. Jarrard. "So from that standpoint, it's easy to understand why it's become so popular with patients. When you add in significantly decreased pain and hospital stay, it's even easier."
Editor's note: As of April 2012, nearly 1,000 robotic prostatectomies had been performed at UW Hospital and Clinics.
In addition, the amount of time a patient must have a catheter to drain the bladder after a robotic procedure is reduced by half, from 14 to 7 days.
Beauchaine's prostate cancer nearly went undetected. Even though his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - a genetic marker doctors use to detect cancer - was low, the nodule his physician found during his routine physical proved to be cancerous.
"My PSA was only at 1.5 - that's pretty low - and here I had somewhat advanced prostate cancer," says Beauchaine.
Online research and suggestions from friends led Beauchaine to UW Hospital, Dr. Jarrard, and the da Vinci surgical robot, a cutting-edge tool that allows Jarrard and his surgical colleagues to execute complex surgeries using minimally invasive techniques. Currently, UW Hospital and Clinics is the only hospital in the Madison area using robotics in the operating room, and one of only five medical centers in Wisconsin.
About Robotic Prostatectomy
In a Robotic Prostatectomy, the patient lies on the operating table under the watchful eye of a surgical assistant, while the surgeon operates the robot while seated at a console a few feet away. The surgeon views the patient's anatomy through a dual-screen viewer that produces a 3-D image magnified 10 times.
The robot has 3 main arms that are controlled by a pair of knobs that the surgeon can squeeze like castanets. Each can be fitted with 5- to 8-millimeter surgical instruments that handle cutting and suturing. A fourth arm controls a miniscule camera scope that gives the surgeon an extremely detailed view of the patient. The end of the robot's arms are like miniature hands with "wrists" that can move 360 degrees.
Patients who have their prostate glands removed in a traditional open surgery typically remain in the hospital an average of 2 days. Patients who have the procedure done via the surgical robot typically go home the next day and return to normal activity in as little as one week.
A Speedy Recovery
That's what happened with Beauchaine. An avid kayaker and biker - he and his wife Peggy power walk 3 miles an evening - Beauchaine was back to more moderate walking within a few days of his surgery.
"I was walking around with no pain from the surgery," he says. "You can't ask for more than that."
Beauchaine knows he was lucky that his condition was detected in time to cure it. His message to men over the age of 50 is short and to the point: Schedule an annual physical, and don't rush the prostate check.
"I feel real fortunate that they found the nodule," says Beauchaine. "They almost sent me on my way without catching it, and who knows what the situation would have been a few years later."

Date Published: 08/23/2007

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