Systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting urinary continence recovery after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy

Eur Urol. 2012 Sep;62(3):405-17. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2012.05.045. Epub 2012 Jun 1.


Context: Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) was proposed to improve functional outcomes in comparison with retropubic radical prostatectomy (RRP) or laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP). In the initial RARP series, 12-mo urinary continence recovery rates ranged from 84% to 97%. However, the few available studies comparing RARP with RRP or LRP published before 2008 did not permit any definitive conclusions about the superiority of any one of these techniques in terms of urinary continence recovery.

Objective: The aims of this systematic review were (1) to evaluate the prevalence and risk factors for urinary incontinence after RARP, (2) to identify surgical techniques able to improve urinary continence recovery after RARP, and (3) to perform a cumulative analysis of all available studies comparing RARP versus RRP or LRP in terms of the urinary continence recovery rate.

Evidence acquisition: A literature search was performed in August 2011 using the Medline, Embase, and Web of Science databases. The Medline search included only a free-text protocol using the term radical prostatectomy across the title and abstract fields of the records. The following limits were used: humans; gender (male); and publication date from January 1, 2008. Searches of the Embase and Web of Science databases used the same free-text protocol, keywords, and search period. Only comparative studies or clinical series including >100 cases reporting urinary continence outcomes were included in this review. Cumulative analysis was conducted using the Review Manager v.4.2 software designed for composing Cochrane Reviews (Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, UK).

Evidence synthesis: We analyzed 51 articles reporting urinary continence rates after RARP: 17 case series, 17 studies comparing different techniques in the context of RARP, 9 studies comparing RARP with RRP, and 8 studies comparing RARP with LRP. The 12-mo urinary incontinence rates ranged from 4% to 31%, with a mean value of 16% using a no pad definition. Considering a no pad or safety pad definition, the incidence ranged from 8% to 11%, with a mean value of 9%. Age, body mass index, comorbidity index, lower urinary tract symptoms, and prostate volume were the most relevant preoperative predictors of urinary incontinence after RARP. Only a few comparative studies evaluated the impact of different surgical techniques on urinary continence recovery after RARP. Posterior musculofascial reconstruction with or without anterior reconstruction was associated with a small advantage in urinary continence recovery 1 mo after RARP. Only complete reconstruction was associated with a significant advantage in urinary continence 3 mo after RARP (odds ratio [OR]: 0.76; p=0.04). Cumulative analyses showed a better 12-mo urinary continence recovery after RARP in comparison with RRP (OR: 1.53; p=0.03) or LRP (OR: 2.39; p=0.006).

Conclusions: The prevalence of urinary incontinence after RARP is influenced by preoperative patient characteristics, surgeon experience, surgical technique, and methods used to collect and report data. Posterior musculofascial reconstruction seems to offer a slight advantage in terms of 1-mo urinary continence recovery. Update of a previous systematic review of literature shows, for the first time, a statistically significant advantage in favor of RARP in comparison with both RRP and LRP in terms of 12-mo urinary continence recovery.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prostatectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prostatectomy / methods
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Robotics*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder / physiopathology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy