Background and Purpose: The laparoscopic approach to radical prostatectomy offers an alternative to the open surgical procedure with less morbidity. We prospectively collected data including a validated quality-of-life questionnaires on our first 38 laparoscopic radical prostatectomies (LRPs). The first 10 patients (group 1), second 10 patients (group II), and the most recent 18 patients (group III) were examined separately to study the learning curve for this procedure. In addition, we determined the pattern of recovery of urinary continence, potency, and quality of life. Patients and Methods: Between July 1999 and July 2002, 38 consecutive transperitoneal laparoscopic radical prostatectomies were performed for clinically localized prostate carcinoma. Patients completed quality-of-life questionnaires (Rand 36 Health Survey) before surgery as well as at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months and every 6 months thereafter. The patients were also interviewed by an individual not directly involved in patient care. Results: One patient (the second in our experience) was converted to the open approach because of failure to progress. The average operating time for the whole series was 423 ± 137.6 minutes (range 215-825 minutes), the last 10 procedures taking 305 ± 63 minutes (range 215-420 minutes). Complications consisted of one case each of intraoperative bladder injury, transient superficial peroneal nerve palsy, pulmonary embolism, and bladder neck obstruction. The bladder injury was closed laparoscopically without further complication. Bladder neck obstruction was secondary to a bladder wall fold that was treated with transurethral resection 14 months after surgery with good results. Four patients in group 1 had minor anastomotic leaks, while only one patient after that had a leak (group III). Four patients required transfusion, two intraoperatively and two postoperatively. In group III, the urethral catheter remained in place for an average of 8 days (range 6-10 days). With a mean follow-up of 22.8 months (range 9-43 months), 84.8% of the patients had perfect urinary control. Postoperatively, 9 patients (27%) were fully continent on removal of the Foley catheter. At 1, 3, 6, and 9 months postoperatively, diurnal urinary control was reported by 30.3%, 48%, 72.7%, and 84.8% of the patients, respectively. One patient needed an artificial urinary sphincter. Among the incontinent patients, 24.2% had urinary urgency, and one third of these patients reported urge incontinence. Conclusions: Laparoscopic prostatectomy is a reproducible technique with a steep learning curve. Operating times and the incidence of anastomotic leaks and urinary incontinence decrease significantly after the initial 10 patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas