Purpose: Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is eclipsing open radical prostatectomy among men with clinically localized prostate cancer. The objective of this study was to compare the risks of problems with continence and sexual function following these procedures among Medicare-age men.
Patients and methods: A population-based random sample was drawn from the 20% Medicare claims files for August 1, 2008, through December 31, 2008. Participants had hospital and physician claims for radical prostatectomy and diagnostic codes for prostate cancer and reported undergoing either a robotic or open surgery. They received a mail survey that included self-ratings of problems with continence and sexual function a median of 14 months postoperatively.
Results: Completed surveys were obtained from 685 (86%) of 797 eligible participants, and 406 and 220 patients reported having had robotic or open surgery, respectively. Overall, 189 (31.1%; 95% CI, 27.5% to 34.8%) of 607 men reported having a moderate or big problem with continence, and 522 (88.0%; 95% CI, 85.4% to 90.6%) of 593 men reported having a moderate or big problem with sexual function. In logistic regression models predicting the log odds of a moderate or big problem with postoperative continence and adjusting for age and educational level, robotic prostatectomy was associated with a nonsignificant trend toward greater problems with continence (odds ratio [OR] 1.41; 95% CI, 0.97 to 2.05). Robotic prostatectomy was not associated with greater problems with sexual function (OR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.51 to 1.49).
Conclusion: Risks of problems with continence and sexual function are high after both procedures. Medicare-age men should not expect fewer adverse effects following robotic prostatectomy.