Robotic radical prostatectomy in Greece: the learning curve and beyond. The initial 40 cases

J Robot Surg. 2008 Jul;2(2):77-80. doi: 10.1007/s11701-008-0092-8. Epub 2008 Jun 17.


Radical prostatectomy is the treatment of choice for management of organ-confined prostate cancer. Minimally invasive treatments, as an alternative, have refined been recently by the introduction of da Vinci robotic technology which has the potential to improve surgical outcomes and reduce the steep learning curve associated with conventional laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. We report on our experience with robotic radical prostatectomy using the first da Vinci robotic system in our country. During 8 months, 40 robotic radical prostatectomies were performed by a single surgical team at Athens Medical Centre (Marousi, Greece). Preoperative data collection included basic demographics, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), clinical stage, and Gleason score. Operative outcomes included operative time, estimated blood loss, and complications. Postoperative outcomes included hospital stay, pain, catheter time, pathology, PSA, return of continence, and potency. Average operative time was 186.25 min with an estimated mean blood loss of 135 ml. There were no intra-operative complications. Ninety per cent of the patients were discharged home on postoperative day 1 with mean haematocrit 36.7 (range 29-43). All patients reported minimal postoperative pain and resumed regular diet on the first postoperative day. Average catheter time was 6.6 days (range 5-10). Early continence was observed in 47.5% of the patients, seven days after catheter removal. Continence at 1, 3, and 6 months was 75, 82.5 and 95%, respectively. The overall positive margin rate was 17.5%. Ninety-five per cent of the patients had undetectable postoperative PSA levels (less than 0.1 ng/ml) at a median follow-up of 6 months. Our initial experience with robotic radical prostatectomy is very promising. The learning curve was approximately 10-12 cases. With a methodical approach we were able to implement the method safely and effectively in our practice, combining minimal morbidity with good oncological and functional outcomes.

Keywords: Continence; Potency; Prostate cancer; Prostatectomy; Robotics.