NL Sharma, A Papadopoulos, D Lee, J McLoughlin, SL Vowler, H Baumert, AY Warren, V Patil, N Shah, DE Neal
OBJECTIVE: • To study the outcomes and learning curve of robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALP) in a single centre by two surgeons. PATIENTS AND METHODS: • In total, 500 consecutive patients underwent RALP between 2005 and 2009 carried out by two surgeons. Using an ethically-approved database, prospective data collection of demographic, surgical, oncological and functional outcomes (patient reported) was performed, with up to 4 years of follow-up. • The learning curves of both surgeons were analyzed and, in addition, the first 100 and last 100 patients were compared to determine the effect of surgeon experience. RESULTS: • The mean age of the patients was 61.5 years and mean preoperative prostate-specific antigen was 7.0 µg/L. Clinical stages were T1 in 63.2%, T2 in 33.8% and T3 in 3.0% of patients. Median (range) operating time was 170 (63-420) min and median (range) blood loss was 200 (20-3000) mL, with significant improvements for both surgeons with increasing experience (P < 0.001 and P= 0.029, respectively). • Pathological stages were pT2 in 53.4%, pT3a in 41.6%, pT3b in 4.0% and pT4 in 0.6% of patients. Overall, the positive margin rate (PMR) was 24.0% and stage-specific rates were 16.1%, 30.4%, 55.0% and 100.0% for pT2, pT3a, pT3b and pT4 disease, respectively. In the last 50 cases performed by each surgeon, the PMRs for pT2 and pT3a disease were 8.0% and 19.1% (surgeon 1) and 12.9% and 23.5% (surgeon 2). • At 12 months of follow-up, 91.3% of patients were continent and, by 48 months of follow-up, 75% of men with preoperative potency who underwent bilateral nerve-sparing RALP were potent. CONCLUSION: • This is the first report of two surgeons' learning curves in a single centre and shows that key learning curve outcomes continued to improve during the series, suggesting that the learning curve for RALP may be longer than has been previously suggested.