Purpose: Video assessment is an emerging tool for understanding surgical technique. Patient outcomes after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) may be linked to technical aspects of the procedure. In an effort to refine surgical approaches and improve outcomes, we sought to understand technical variation for the key steps of RARP in a surgical collaborative.
Methods: The Michigan Urological Surgery Improvement Collaborative (MUSIC) is a statewide quality improvement collaborative with the aim of improving prostate cancer care. MUSIC surgeons were invited to submit representative complete videos of nerve-sparing RARP for blinded analysis. We also analyzed peri-operative outcomes from these surgeons in the registry.
Results: Surgical video data from 20 unique surgeons identified many variations in technique and time to complete different steps. Common to all surgeons was a transperitoneal approach and a running urethrovesical anastomosis. Prior to anastomosis, 25% surgeons undertook a posterior reconstruction and 30% employed urethral suspension. 65% surgeons approached the seminal vesicle anteriorly. For control of the dorsal vein complex, suture ligation was used in 60%, and vascular stapler was 15%. The majority (80%) of surgeons employed clips for managing pedicles. In examining patient outcomes for surgeons, peri-operative outcomes were not correlated with surgeon's operative time; however, surgeons with an EBL > 400 ml had significant difference among the five different techniques employed.
Conclusions: Despite the worldwide popularity of RARP, the operation is still far from standardized. Correlating variation in technique with clinical outcomes may help provide objective data to support best practices with the goal to improve patient outcomes.
Keywords: Prostate cancer; Radical prostatectomy; Robotic surgery; Technique; Video assessment.