There is limited, yet compelling evidence supporting the role of surgeon technical performance in influencing patient outcomes. To date, this concept has been underexplored in endourologic procedures. We hypothesized that a surgeon's technical performance plays a role in predicting an early return to continence after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP).
We conducted a retrospective, matched case-control analysis of prospectively collected unedited RARP endoscopic videos performed by a single surgeon. A blinded observer with expertise in intraoperative video analysis evaluated clinically relevant steps of RARP using the global evaluative assessment of robotic skill (GEARS) and the generic error rating tool (GERT). The primary outcome was continence status at 3 months postoperatively, defined as patient use of less than or equal to a single precautionary pad. Mann-Whitney U tests examined differences in predictor variables between cases and controls, and multivariate analysis was conducted using binary logistic regression models.
Twenty-four incontinent patients were matched for age, body mass index, preoperative International Prostate Symptoms Score, use of posterior/anterior hitch, prostate weight, and learning curve position. No statistically significant difference in errors between groups was observed using the GERT. On multivariate analysis, overall case GEARS score was independently predictive of 3-month continence status (odds ratios [OR] = 0.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.33-0.91), as were urethrovesical anastomosis (OR = 0.70, 95% CI 0.50-0.97) and bladder neck GEARS scores (OR = 0.69, 95% CI 0.51-0.94).
Our study generates the hypothesis that there may be a link between surgeon technical performance and functional outcomes in RARP. This relationship may have implications for the accreditation and training of future urologists and warrants further investigation.