Tag Archive for: RARP


Article of the week: Obese patients should not be denied RARP

Every week the Editor-in-Chief selects the Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.

Perioperative and early oncological outcomes after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) in morbidly obese patients: a propensity score-matched study

Haidar Abdul-Muhsin, Camilo Giedelman, Srinivas Samavedi, Oscar Schatloff, Rafael Coelho, Bernardo Rocco, Kenneth Palmer, George Ebra and Vipul Patel

Global Robotics Institute, Florida Hospital Celebration Health, Celebration, FL, USA


• To evaluate the perioperative and pathological outcomes associated with robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) in morbidly obese men.


• Between January 2008 and March 2012, 3041 patients underwent RARP at our institution by a single surgeon (V.P.).

• In all, 44 patients were considered morbidly obese with a body mass index (BMI) of ≥40 kg/m2.

• A propensity score-matched analysis was conducted using multivariable analysis to identify comparable groups of patients with a BMI of ≥40 and <40 kg/m2.

• Perioperative, pathological outcomes and complications were compared between the two matched groups.


• There was no significant difference in operative time. However, the mean estimated blood loss was higher in morbidly obese patients, at a mean (sd) of 113 (41) vs 130 (27) mL (P = 0.049).

• Anastomosis was more difficult in morbidly obese patients (P = 0.001).

• There were no significant differences in laterality, ease of nerve sparing, or transfusion rate between the groups.

• There were no intraoperative complications in either group. Postoperative pathological outcomes were similar between the groups.

• Differences in positive surgical margins and ease of nerve sparing approached statistical significance (P = 0.097, P = 0.075 respectively). Postoperative complication rates, pain scores, length of stay and indwelling catheter duration were similar in the groups.


• RARP in morbidly obese patients is technically demanding. However, it can be accomplished with acceptable morbidity and resource use.

• In the hands of an experienced surgeon, it is a safe procedure and offers beneficial clinical outcomes.


Read Previous Articles of the Week



Editorial: How should we best manage obesity in urology?

Abdul-Muhsin et al. [1] are to be congratulated on an excellent study involving >3000 patients undergoing robot-assisted radical prostatectomy over a 4-year period. In their study they demonstrate that the morbidly obese patient can be managed in a just about equal way to the non-morbidly obese patient for removal of the prostate. The complications and recovery characteristics in morbidly obese patients are reviewed and it is concluded that, in this single-operator single-centre study, the morbidly obese male with prostate cancer should not be overlooked as a candidate for radical surgery.

We are all faced with more obese patients presenting to our clinical care; in the UK 20% of the adult population are obese and >3% are morbidly obese. There are an increasing number of studies looking at the outcome of surgery in the obese and morbidly obese populations. These studies have drawn mixed conclusions, with some suggesting an increased risk and morbidity and others suggesting no difference when compared with a non-obese population. This is confusing: perhaps the use of body mass index alone to assess obesity is limited and misleading [2]. This is because the distribution of fat varies considerably among individuals, with the most at-risk patients being those with a centripetal fat distribution producing a large abdominal girth. In middle-aged men, a waist size of >102 cm is the best predictor of metabolic syndrome with all its concomitant risk factors [3]. It is these patients who represent the greatest risk for surgery and it is these same patients who urgently need to improve their lifestyle and shed weight in order to achieve a normal life expectancy both to aid surgery and thereafter. Factors such as hypoventilation, hypertension and the risk of thromboembolism are greatly increased in this group. Diabetes, abnormal lipids, bone and joint diseases and reflux are common. These factors will probably contribute to multiple potential peri-operative complications. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is very useful in detecting the patients most at risk and likely to require most intensive care postoperatively. There are too few studies to date that include this test and that specifically looking at the morbidly obese population, but results are encouraging and will very probably detect those patients most likely to require critical care facilities [4].

While the surgical results in the Abdul-Muhsin et al. study are excellent, one would not wish to dilute the key message to our patients that preparation for major surgery with weight loss is vital. Addressing nutrition and exercise activity in the preoperative period is extremely beneficial and highly successful. Achieving a 10% weight loss within weeks before surgery is entirely achievable with significant benefits to the medical comorbidities and, in particular, breathing and muscle activity [5]. One great advantage of prostate cancer surgery is the often slow-growing nature of the tumour and we can, therefore, often take the opportunity to postpone major surgery for just a matter of weeks to improve fitness and nutrition. This window of opportunity is more than enough to transform a high-risk patient to one with a much lower risk profile.

If we inspire our patients to join in the aim of the whole surgical team to safely cure prostate cancer using weight reduction and improved fitness then long-term life benefits will surely follow in addition to the immediate gains for surgery and anaesthesia.

Peter Amoroso
The London Clinic, 20 Devonshire Place, London W1G 6BW

Read the full article


  1. Abdul-Muhsin H, Giedelman C, Samavedi S et al. Perioperative and early oncological outcomes after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) in morbidly obese patients: a propensity score-matched studyBJU Int 2014; 113: 84–91
  2. Mullen JT, Moorman DW, Davenport DL. The obesity paradox body mass index and outcomes in patients undergoing non-bariatric general surgeryAnn Surg 2009; 250: 166–172
  3. Balentine CJ, RobInson CN, Marshall CR et al. Waist circumference predicts increased complications in rectal cancer surgeryJ Gastrointest Surg 2010; 14: 1669–1679
  4. Hennis PJ, Meale PM, Hurst RA et al. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing predicts post operative outcome in patients undergoing gastric bypass surgeryBr J Anaesth 2012; 109: 566–571
  5. Benotti PN, Still CD, Wood GC et al. Preoperative weight loss before bariatric surgeryArch Surg 2009; 44: 1150–1155


A Rather Nasty Surprise

Recently, I encountered, and indeed I actually caused, a complication of robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) which was new to me, and one which I felt that I should share with other surgeons.

PM, a 60-year old teacher, underwent a completely routine RARP, which took less than 2 hours to perform on a Saturday morning. During Sunday night he developed severe abdominal pain and distension. By Monday morning he was in distress with rebound tenderness and marked tachycardia. A CT scan was requested, which revealed a caecal volvulus. A laparotomy by a general surgeon confirmed the diagnosis and an urgent right hemicolectomy was undertaken. The patient made an uneventful recovery and, I am pleased to say, is still speaking to me. Histology confirmed an ischaemic caecum twisted on its rather thickened mesentery, with no perforation present. The prostate itself contained a Gleason 3+4=7 adenocarcinoma, without evidence of extra-prostatic extension.

Although robotic assistance provides the benefits of very precise, virtually bloodless surgery, with 10 times magnification and 3D vision, it also carries the risk of a specific set of complications. These need to be dealt with promptly and efficiently and can usually be completely resolved. Failure to recognise post-operative problems, such as bowel injury, intra-abdominal bleeding or port-site hernia, however, can place the patient in severe and increasing jeopardy. We recently published an article in the BJUI entitled “Lessons Learned from 1000 robot-assisted radical prostatectomy” in which we discussed how many of the problems could be avoided, and, if they occur how they can be best dealt with. One key message is the importance of an early CT scan to diagnose the nature of a post-operative problem, rather than crossing fingers and hoping things will settle.

I am hoping that this blog, and the BJUI article mentioned above, will stimulate other surgeons to discuss openly and frankly the problems that they themselves have encountered, either with regular laparoscopy or with the da Vinci robot, and how they dealt with them. Learning the lessons, not only from one’s own errors and omissions, but also from those of others, seems the best way to become, and continue to be, a safe and successful surgeon.  


Roger Kirby, The Prostate Centre, London

Article of the week: Long-term study finds excellent outcomes after RARP

Every week the Editor-in-Chief selects the Article of the Week from the current issue of BJUI. The abstract is reproduced below and you can click on the button to read the full article, which is freely available to all readers for at least 30 days from the time of this post.

In addition to the article itself, there is an accompanying editorial written by a prominent member of the urological community. This blog is intended to provoke comment and discussion and we invite you to use the comment tools at the bottom of each post to join the conversation.

If you only have time to read one article this week, it should be this one.

Long-term evaluation of survival, continence and potency (SCP) outcomes after robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP)

Vincenzo Ficarra*, Marco Borghesi*, Nazareno Suardi§, Geert De Naeyer*, Giacomo Novara, Peter Schatteman*, Ruben De Groote*, Paul Carpentier* and Alexander Mottrie*

*OLV Robotic Surgery Institute, Aalst, Belgium, University of Padova, Padova, University of Bologna, Bologna, and §Vita-Salute University San Raffaele, Milan, Italy

Read the full article

• To report combined oncological and functional outcome in a series of patients who underwent robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) for clinically localised prostate cancer in a single European centre after 5-year minimum follow-up according to survival, continence and potency (SCP) outcomes.


• We extracted from our prostate cancer database all consecutive patients with a minimum follow-up of 5 years after RARP. Biochemical failure was defined as a confirmed PSA concentration of >0.2 ng/mL.

• All patients alive at the last follow-up were evaluated for functional outcomes using the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC) and Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) questionnaires.

• Oncological and functional outcomes were reported according to the SCP system. Specifically, patients were classified as using no pad (C0), using one pad for security (C1), and using ≥1 pad (C2) (not including the prior definition).

• Patients potent (SHIM score of >17) without any aids were classified as P0 category; patients potent (SHIM score of >17) with use of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitorsas P1; and patients with erectile dysfunction (SHIM score of <17) as P2 category. Patients who did not undergo a nerve-sparing technique, who were not potent preoperatively, who were not interested in erections, or who did not have sexual partners were classified as Px category.


• The 3-, 5- and 7-year biochemical recurrence-free survival rates were 96.3%; 89.6% and 88.3%, respectively.

• At follow-up, 146 (79.8%) were fully continent (C0), 20 (10.9%) still used a safety pad (C1) and 17 (9.3%) were incontinent using ≥1 pad (C2).

• Excluding Px patients, 52 patients (47.3%) were classified as P0; 41 patients (37.3%) were classified as P1 and 17 patients (15.5%) were P2.

• In patients preoperatively continent and potent, who received a nerve-sparing technique and did not require any adjuvant therapy, oncological and functional success was attained by 77 (80.2%) patients.

• In the subgroup of 67 patients not evaluable for potency recovery (Px), oncological and continence outcomes were attained in 46 patients (68.7%).


• Oncological and functional success was attained in a high percentage of patients who underwent RARP at ≥5 years follow-up.

• Interestingly, this study confirmed that excellent oncological and functional outcomes can be obtained in the ‘best’ category of patients, i.e. those preoperatively continent and potent and with tumour characteristics suitable for a nerve-sparing technique.


Read Previous Articles of the Week


Editorial: Time to raise the bar in localised prostate cancer

In this issue of BJUI, Ficarra et al. present the long-term (mean 81.3 months) follow-up of a case series of 183 men that underwent robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) at a single academic medical centre in Europe. To the authors’ credit, they report both cancer control and patient-reported outcomes, using well-known validated and reliable instruments to assess both urinary and sexual function. Like others before them, Ficarra et al. demonstrate that RARP is a safe and effective way to treat localised prostate cancer.

However, the question the study raises is not so much about the operation’s success rate but rather how success is defined in the first place. Throughout the prostate cancer literature, we have loosened definitions of successful urinary and sexual function to make RP more palatable to patients. In the present study, potency is effectively defined as a Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) score of >17 with or without the use of a phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. Similarly, continence is defined as either no pad use or the use of a single pad ‘for security’. This approach certainly has face validity to us as clinicians. After all, PDE5 inhibitors are effective therapies for erectile dysfunction and the use of a single urinary liner certainly does not seem like a big deal. However, we need to consider this from the patient’s perspective. Both urinary pads and PDE5 inhibitors are costly to the patient and may represent an inconvenience and a potential embarrassment to many men. Is it really fair to tell men that they will be potent and/or continent after the operation, if they are going to require these additional interventions to achieve the desired state? I think not.

Going forward, we must set the bar higher if we are to be truly honest with our patients and optimise outcomes after RP. We must effectively ‘leave patients the way we found them’ with the critical difference being that they are now cancer-free. In other words, if a man was able to achieve an erection sufficient for intercourse preoperatively without the use of PDE5 inhibitors, he should only be considered potent postoperatively if he is in the same state, i.e. able to achieve an erection sufficient for intercourse without the use of a PDE5 inhibitor. The same holds true for urinary continence and the use of urinary liners. This will certainly make it more difficult to achieve the ‘trifecta’ but the reader should remember that the term is meant to imply ‘triple perfection’ and needing to use a PD5 inhibitor for sexual activity or having to wear a urinary pad, while acceptable to many patients, is certainly not perfect.

Some will say that I am insisting that the bar be set too high, that patients are willing to accept these reasonable but less than perfect definitions of success to be cured of their cancer. I acknowledge that there may be some validity to this argument in men with higher risk disease, where we know that cancer control and cure is necessary. However, I do not think the argument holds up in the case of men with low-risk disease, many of whom will never experience any symptoms of prostate cancer in their lifetimes and will not die of their disease if it were left untreated. In these patients, setting the bar higher would not only be more honest but it would probably increase the uptake of active surveillance and decrease overtreatment. In summary, while the use of more stringent definitions of success after RP may make our operations look ‘worse’, it will help our patients to set more realistic expectations, make more informed choices about treatment and ultimately to have better outcomes.

David F. Penson
Department of Urologic Surgery, Vanderbilt University, 2525 West End Avenue, Suite 1200, Nashville, TN, 37203, USA

Read the full article

On the Receiving End!

It was weird, having spent a career looking after men with prostate problems, to discover that my own PSA was raised to 4.3ng/mL. A 3 Tesla MRI with gadolinium enhancement revealed a lesion in the right peripheral zone, which a biopsy confirmed as a Gleason 3+4=7 adenocarcinoma. The decision wasn’t difficult for me: I opted for a robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP), to be performed by the Editor-in-Chief of this journal, Professor Prokar Dasgupta, ably assisted by Ben Challacombe and Krishna Patil. Details of my whole journey are available here for those who are interested.

The key point for discussion in this blog is the availability of the latest technology for the care of patients with prostate cancer who are less in the know than me. Shouldn’t we be lobbying for greater access for all to the latest pieces of high tech gear?

3 Tesla MRI imaging, together with the expertise to interpret the findings of diffusion-weighted images, for example, offers the possibility of a “prostate mammogram” which facilitates the targeting of the biopsy and holds the promise of avoiding biopsies in those in whom the MRI images appear blameless.

Da Vinci robotic technology undoubtedly facilitates the surgical procedure, especially the preservation of the neurovascular bundles and the very precise vesico-urethral anastomosis. It certainly was an interesting experience to sit and watch the DVD of my own operation at home, with a catheter still draining my bladder, wondering about my future continence and sexual function, as well as the histopathology report! After an operation like this anybody is going to need assistance to move around the house just to do basic activities like go to the bathroom or even change clothes. That’s why it is very important to check into a nursing home where they offer their professional service. In some cases these nurses don’t work professionally and often neglect their patients needs, so that is why it’s recommended to contact a nursing home neglect attorney for situations like this for legal help.

Am I discombobulated by this experience? Not especially, I genuinely found being on the receiving end of prostate surgery a truly educational experience and I now feel energised to help others get through their journey. In the upcoming issue of Trends in Urology three other of our urological colleagues share their own experiences of prostate cancer, as well as the lessons that can be learned from them. Check out the Trends in Urology website from mid-March onwards.

In the meantime we would be interested in your own thoughts on these issues. Do add a comment or question to this blog.

Roger Kirby
The Prostate Centre, London W1G 8GT


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