Radical prostatectomy is the gold standard surgical treatment for organ-confined prostate cancer. There is no consensus on the impact of previous laparoscopic experience on the learning curve of robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP). We compared the perioperative complications and early patient outcomes from our initial 100 cases of RALP with laparoscopic prostatectomy (LRP) cases performed well beyond the learning curve.
Between July 2011 and January 2012, 110 RALP were performed by one of two surgeons, each with previous experience of more than 1000 LRP. The cases were pair matched from among the last 208 patients who had undergone LRP by the same surgeons at the same time. The clinical parameters, operative details, postoperative complications, and short-term outcomes from these patients, collected prospectively, were compared between the two groups.
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level and age of the two groups was similar. The operative time (128.4 vs 153.9 min; P=0.01) and blood loss (200 vs 254 mL; P=0.01) was significantly less for the LRP group, but the duration of catheterization was similar (5.89 vs 6.2 days). The complication rate was low. No procedures needed conversions, and no patient had a visceral injury or blood transfusion. Twenty-three patients in the LRP group and 33 patients in the RALP group had extraprostatic disease, and the positive margin rate was 14% and 19% for these respective groups. At 3 months, PSA level was undetectable in 94% of LRP and 92% RALP patients, while 56% and 65% (P=0.062) patients in these groups were using 0 to 2 pads per day.
The initial results of the outcome of RALP are at least at par with those of LRP and with those of previously published RALP series. This suggests the lack of a steep learning curve for experienced laparoscopic surgeons in performing RALP.