Robot Surgery Breakthrough: Prostate Cancer Savior?

Wednesday, 22 Aug 2012 07:57 AM

 

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When surgery is recommended in a battle to beat prostate cancer, men may face a decision to remove their cancerous prostate through a traditional, open procedure involving one long incision, or through robotics, which is minimally invasive and can involve less blood loss and a shorter recovery time.

According to Dr. David Samadi, chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, the decision rests with the answer to this question: How experienced is your surgeon at the new technology?







“It really comes down to the experience of the surgeon,” he says he tells the many men who ask this question. “I always tell them if you have an excellent open surgeon versus somebody who has done only a few hundred robotic cases and they’re not experienced, they should go for open surgery because ultimately the outcome, which is the cancer cure rate, continence, and sexual function, is exactly what we’re looking for.”

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With robotic surgery, the surgeon sits 10 feet away from the patient at a video console and manipulates a robot to perform the work, Dr. Samadi tells Newsmax Health. Precision in removing the prostate is critical, and common side effects from prostatectomies are impotence and incontinence due to nerve damage.

“The robot doesn’t do the surgery by itself; it’s surgeon dependent,” he says.

In the hands of a skilled surgeon, a robotic procedure can be particularly precise because there is less bleeding obscuring the surgical site than there is with conventional surgery, so the surgeon’s hands don’t have to manipulate the prostate to locate nerves and cancer, he says.

“Since there is gas in the abdomen (to blow it up like a balloon and create a working space) and there is no bleeding, and I can see very well, I don’t need to put my hands there anymore and there’s no reason to really touch the prostate,” he says. “…We’re able to do a much more precise operation.”

Who would be considered highly skillful in robotic surgery? Dr. Samadi recommends looking for someone who is not only regarded as an excellent surgeon in general, but who also has been well trained in robotics and cancer, and has performed thousands of surgeries.

“If you have that, it doesn’t make any sense to really cut someone open and go through open surgery with all that blood loss and transfusions and longer recovery,” he explains. “So robotic surgery, in the hands of experienced surgeons, is the way to go.”

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