The Future of Urologic Surgery - Robotics

UW Health urologistsSurgery is a highly effective treatment method for Prostate Cancer that is confined to the gland. University of Wisconsin urologists perform hundreds of prostatectomies (prostate gland removals) annually.


They draw on the university's extensive experience using effective techniques that can spare both the muscle that controls urination and the nerve bundles responsible for sexual function.


At UW Health, both open retropubic prostatectomy, as well as Robotic Prostatectomies are performed. UW Health was one of the first centers to obtain the robot and begin utilizing it in the treatment of patients with urologic cancers.


Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (RALP) allows the surgeon to remove the prostate and the surrounding lymph nodes via five tiny abdominal incisions. The surgical instruments are placed through these incisions and precisely manipulated by a precision robotic system.


About Robotic Prostatectomy


Robotic Prostatectomy causes less tissue trauma, bleeding and scarring than other traditional surgeries. This often results in a faster recovery time. Research has indicated that traditional open approaches and robotic prostatectomy result in similar outcomes for survival, urinary continence and sexual function. However, because of advantages in healing and blood loss, the majority of surgeries are done using the robot.


Advantages of this state-of-the-art surgical procedure include wristed instrumentation, tremor filtration and 3-D magnification up to tenfold. All of these aid the surgeon in performing one of the most demanding aspects of the procedure - the preservation of nerves for post-operative sexual function and continence. Along with cancer control, these are key elements in the follow-up of the patient undergoing treatment.


UW Health was one of the first centers to obtain the robot and begin utilizing it in the treatment of patients with urologic cancers. The patient experience at UW has led to the publication of a number of research articles, including the following:

  • The demonstration that cancer control rates are the same with traditional open and robotic prostatectomy
  • The finding that the dissection and preservation of abnormal blood vessels important for sexual function in the pelvis can be improved with robotic prostatectomy
  • The demonstration of similar urinary control with robotic prostatectomy as open prostatectomy
  • Tips to improve the outcome of patients with difficult to manage prostate gland configurations

As the surgical group at the UW surpassed its 500th robotic prostatectomy in 2009, the group now demonstrates one of the most extensive experiences in the Midwest. This minimally invasive approach has been expanded to include the treatment of other cancers, including bladder and kidney. Results indicate similar cancer control rates, but improved healing time. It is UW's focus to minimize the impact of cancer on the lives of patients.


Videos: Robotic Urologic Surgery


Prostate cancer patientJim Vergeront tackled his diagnosis of prostate cancer head-on. He chose Robotic Prostatectomy at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center because he wanted to remove the cancer completely and return to his active lifestyle.


Watch the Video