Robot-assisted surgery is now more common and successful than traditional "open" surgery to treat prostate cancer in the United States, according to a new study.
The Henry Ford Hospital research, published in the current issue of the medical journal European Urology, is the first to compare the results of robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) to the standard surgical procedure, open radical prostatectomy (ORP).
Standard ORP involves opening the lower abdomen with a long incision, and removing the prostate gland and surrounding tissue to prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. RARP is a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical alternative, where tiny incisions are made in the abdomen.
For the study, scientists at Henry Ford Hospital's Vattikuti Urology Institute tracked 19,278 patients who underwent RARP or ORP in 647 U.S. medical institutions between October 2008 and December 2009. Of the 11,889 who underwent RARP and 7,389 underwent ORP procedures, researchers found:
• More RARPs were performed at teaching institutions in urban locations, and a higher proportion of RARPs were performed at high-volume hospitals.
• RARP patients were less likely than ORP patients to need a blood transfusion and less likely to have a prolonged hospital stay.
• RARP patients suffered fewer complications during or after surgery -- including cardiac, respiratory, and vascular problems – than those who had standard ORP surgery.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men. Radical prostatectomy was once the standard treatment, but in the past 10 years, "we've seen a significant trend toward the use of minimally invasive approaches to RP for the treatment of prostate cancer, particularly in the U.S.," said Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh, who led the new study.
At Henry Ford, which helped pioneer robotic surgery for prostate cancer, 98 percent of patients go home within 24 hours of the operation and major complications are less than 2 percent.