A radical prostatectomy is surgery to remove the whole prostate gland. The seminal vesicles are removed and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed during this surgery. A radical prostatectomy is a common treatment option for prostate cancer. It's used for men whose cancer has not spread outside of the prostate gland.
There are two ways urologists reach and remove the prostate during a radical prostatectomy. The first is called an open prostatectomy. Here, the urologist makes an 8- to 10-inch cut below the belly button. The prostate, nearby tissues, lymph nodes and vesicles are removed through this opening.
The second, more recent means is a laparoscopic procedure, also known as minimally invasive surgery. There are two laparoscopic methods used in radical prostatectomy. They are laparoscopic prostatectomy and the more common, robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy.
In a laparoscopic prostatectomy, a urologist makes a few small cuts across the belly. Surgical tools and a camera are placed inside the body through these openings. A video screen is then linked to the camera. Using the video screen as a guide, the urologist will hold the tools and complete the surgery.
Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy
As in a routine laparoscopic prostatectomy, small cuts are made in the belly. A urologist uses a control panel to move robotic arms that are holding the surgical tools from outside the body. A high-tech system lets the urologist use natural wrist movements and a 3-D screen to complete the surgery. This method has become the most common method to remove the prostate in recent years.
Whether you choose the open or the laparoscopic surgery, you will need time to heal. After a 1- to 2-night stay in the hospital, you will go home with some form of catheter to help drain urine for 7 to 14 days. In the first few weeks to months after surgery, it is common to have some leakage of urine.
Read the latest issue of Urology Health extra, the Urology Care Foundations patient-focused magazine.