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Robotic Prostate Cancer Surgery

DMC Robotic Surgery Specialist uses less-invasive procedure to treat prostate cancer, with faster recovery.

Jim Nance never dreamed he would get the news he had prostate cancer. He had no symptoms, and was lucky that it was detected during his annual physical. Jim’s doctor referred him to Dr. Tina Schuster, urologist and co director of the Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery program at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. Dr. Schuster is an expert in removing the prostate using the minimally invasive da Vinci robot. Because the prostate is located in such a hard-to-reach area deep inside the pelvis, 20 years ago, this surgery was very invasive. Surgeons would make a large incision from the pubic bone up to the navel, sometimes higher. The surgery would involve a lengthy hospital stay – at least three to four days. Patients were told to donate blood ahead of time for the surgery. But with robotic surgery, these problems are greatly minimized. Transfusions are rare, blood loss is minimal. Robotic surgery uses small incisions, and the hospital stay is just overnight, with minimal pain medications required. “They get back to work within a couple of weeks,” says Schuster. “There are very few complications as far as blood loss and infection are concerned.” For a procedure like Jim’s, Schuster sits at a console near the patient so she can operate the da Vinci robot controls. The robot offers a 3D view inside the patient’s abdomen and allows the surgeon full wrist-like action with precision instruments. Dr. Schuster uses the da Vinci Robot to retract or move the bladder out of the way. She then uses tiny instruments to disconnect the prostate from the base of the bladder. Once disconnected, the gland is removed, again through just a tiny incision. Jim’s surgery was a success: his prostate was removed and the cancer had not spread any further. “It was a good decision to have it done robotically,” says Jim. “That’s the way to go, because the other way, you’re going to be hurting afterward, and it’s going to take you two, three months to recover. With robotics, you can bounce right back in three weeks.” Many men wonder if they experience any urinary incontinence after the surgery. Dr. Schuster says the majority of men have regained control of their bladder between three to six months after surgery, compared to 12 months after open surgery. Men also wonder about erectile dysfunction. After surgery, patients are given a vacuum pump as part of their recovery program to use on a daily basis to promote blood flow to the penis. The use of the pump is temporary and the time it is needed varied by patient. To learn more about the da Vinci prostatectomy, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tina Schuster at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, visit DMC.org or call 888-DMC-2500.

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