Frequently Asked Questions About Robotic Prostatectomy

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Robotic Prostatectomy

Q. What is robotic surgery?
A. Robotic surgery (robotic prostatectomy) is a laparoscopic approach to the treatment of prostate cancer using the da Vinci robot to assist. This device provides three-dimensional vision, magnification and an articulating robotic wrist. The robot recreates the actions performed by the surgeon at the console in a more precise manner.
Q. Why choose UW Health for this procedure?
A. Volume, training and experience are important in outcomes for patients with prostate cancer. Our robotic surgeons are fellowship-trained in oncology (additional training after a residency) and focus specifically on this area. This approach permits some of the best outcomes with regard to minimizing side-effects and maximizing cancer control.
Q. Is the procedure performed in the same manner as the open surgery?
A. Yes. The prostate is removed entirely, sparing the cavernous nerves and urethral sphincter, in the same fashion as open surgery.
Q. Can lymph nodes also be removed during the robotic procedure?
A. Yes, this depends on the stage, grade and PSA of your cancer.
Q. How long does a da Vinci robotic prostatectomy surgery take?
A. The actual procedure normally takes two to three hours, although unusual circumstances can increase the time required.
Q. Why choose a da Vinci robotic prostatectomy surgery?
A. If your doctor recommends surgery for your prostate cancer, you may be a candidate for robotic prostatectomy. This new, less-invasive surgical procedure utilizes a state-of-the-art surgical system that helps your surgeon see vital anatomical structures more clearly and to perform a more precise surgical procedure. For most patients, robotic prostatectomy offers numerous potential benefits over open prostatectomy, including: 
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain and pain medication
  • Less blood loss and transfusions
  • No blood donation necessary from the patient
  • Less scarring
  • Shorter catherization
  • Quicker return to normal activities 
Q. Will I need to donate blood to have available during my da Vinci robotic prostatectomy?
A. One benefit of this procedure is the minimal loss of blood, so typically you will not have to donate your own blood.
Q. How long will I have to stay in the hospital after surgery, and when can I resume normal activities?
A. Most robotic prostatectomy patients are able to go home within 24 hours after surgery. Most patients are able to resume normal activities about 14 to 21 days after surgery.
Q. Will I have a urinary catheter after the surgery, and will I have normal urinary control after this procedure?
A. Yes. A urinary catheter is required to ensure adequate bladder drainage and facilitate healing of the area. Most patients experience some incontinence immediately following catheter removal, but their urinary control generally returns with time.
Q. Will I be able to resume normal sexual relations after this procedure?
A. Not immediately, although erectile function returns for most patients within nine to 12 months. Some patients are able to resume sexual intercourse within a shorter time. All patients who have a radical prostatectomy, regardless of the type of surgery used, will be sterile.