Objective: To report our initial experience in the treatment of prostate cancer with robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP), evaluating our results in terms of learning curve, postoperative outcomes and positive surgical margins. Material and Methods: From April 2005 to February 2006, a single surgeon performed 41 RALP using the da Vinci robot (Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif., USA). Clinical and pathological data were collected prospectively and analyzed by a researcher from outside our clinic. The main perioperative parameters assessed were the following: operative time, blood loss, transfusion rate, conversion rate, intra- and postoperative complications, hospitalization time, catheterization time, and positive surgical margin rate. To evaluate the learning curve, patients were stratified into three groups: from case 1 to 10 (group 1), from case 11 to 20 (group 2), and from case 21 to 41 (group C). Results: Median operative time was 210 min. Mean blood loss was 400 ml, with 9.8% of the patients receiving blood transfusions. Conversion to open surgery occurred in 2 cases (4.9%), while 4 postoperative complications (9.7%) were reported. Median times of hospitalization and catheterization were 7 days. Positive surgical margins were detected in 26.8% of the cases (6.9% among pT2 patients). Operative time (p < 0.001), blood loss (p = 0.02), transfusion rate (p = 0.006), and postoperative complication rates (p = 0.03) reduced along the learning curve. Conclusion: RALP is a feasible and reproducible technique, with a short learning curve and low perioperative complication rate. Even during the initial phase of the learning curve, good results were obtained with regard to postoperative complications and oncological outcome. Copyright © 2008 S. Karger AG.
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