Robotic Radical Prostatectomy

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The Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a world leader in using state-of-the-art robotics to improve outcomes for patients with prostate cancer. This cutting-edge technology’s potential to maintain urinary and sexual function and shorten patient recovery time is motivating more and more of our patients to consider robotic surgery. Our urologic oncology surgical staff is among the most experienced in the world, having performed more than 1200 robotic radical prostatectomies since 2005.

What is a radical prostatectomy?

A radical prostatectomy is the complete removal of the cancerous prostate gland, seminal vesicles (a pair of glands that lie behind the prostate), and, in some cases, pelvic lymph nodes.

What is a robotic radical prostatectomy?

Robotic radical prostatectomy uses a combination of high-definition 3D magnification, robotic technology and miniature instruments to enhance a urologic surgeon’s skills when removing a cancerous prostate gland. 

Unlike traditional open prostate surgery, which requires one large incision and retraction to accommodate human hands, only tiny incisions in the abdomen (see image below) are required for the slender robotic arms and tiny surgical tools used in a robot-assisted prostatectomy and other robotic urologic procedures. There are four available arms - one equipped with a high definition 3-D magnification camera, two that act as the surgeon’s arms and a fourth arm that is used for holding back tissue. The camera gives the surgeon enhanced detail, true depth of field and a panoramic view, and the robotic hands’ broad range of movement enables greater dexterity.

This enhanced visualization, precision and dexterity provide significant advantages when delicately separating blood vessels and nerves - critical for maintaining the erectile capability of the penis - from the cancerous prostate gland. Our surgeons make every effort to save as many of the nerves as possible without sacrificing oncologic outcomes. Our apical dissection (separating the prostate from the urethra) and bladder-sparing approach also maximizes chances of early return of urinary control. 

For a more-detailed view of the robotic arms and hands in action, watch video clips of a robotic prostatectomy performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

What are the benefits of robotic radical prostatectomy?

Robotic surgery’s miniaturization, increased range of motion, enhanced vision and mechanical precision offer significant benefits for our prostatectomy patients, including:

  • Less blood loss
  • Less post-surgical pain/less medication
  • Quicker recovery and return to normal activities
  • Less scarring

Who performs robot-assisted prostatectomies at BWH?

Adam S. Kibel, MD, and Steven Lee Chang, MD, MS, represent the robotic urology program at BWH, one of the largest robotic surgery practices in New England. Dr. Kibel, Chief of Urology, has specialized in minimally invasive surgery for urologic cancer for over 15 years. He is one of the most experienced robotic surgeons in New England and one of the most respected cancer surgeons in the country. He has lectured and published widely on the techniques and outcomes of robotic-assisted prostatectomy, partial nephrectomy, and cystectomy.

Dr. Chang completed a fellowship in urologic oncology at Stanford University Medical Center, with an emphasis on minimally invasive surgery. As a result, Dr. Chang employs robotic surgery for nearly all his patients with cancer of the kidney, prostate, or bladder. Dr. Chang frequently lectures on robotic urologic surgery and actively conducts research focused on optimizing robotic techniques and outcomes.

How can I learn more about robotic radical prostatectomy?

If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chang or Dr. Kibel, please call the Patient Referral Service - staffed 8am-5:30pm, Monday through Friday - at 1-800-294-9999, or fill out an online request form.

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