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Robotic surgery to remove the prostate drastically reduces pain,
scarring, and recovery time for men

NEWARK, NJ – Montville resident Hoi Lui admits he felt skeptical when his urologist first suggested he undergo a new, robotic-assisted surgery to treat his prostate cancer. “In the beginning I had mixed feelings. I was surprised and curious when my doctor brought it up,” he said.

Knowing little about the subject, Mr. Lui, 68, did some research on his own and was impressed by what he learned: that this new robotic procedure, which dramatically reduces the patient’s pain, scarring, blood loss and recovery time, was fast becoming a preferred alternative to the traditional “open” operation to remove the prostate.

Urologist Domenico Savatta, MD of Florham Park, who performs the procedure known as da Vinci Prostatectomy, talked to Mr. Lui about the operation and put him in contact with several of his patients who had already undergone the surgery. After hearing the men describe their excellent results, Mr. Lui made the decision to try the new procedure. His 3-hour operation took place on April 5 at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and within a day and a half he was back at home with nothing more than a couple of band-aids to cover the scars.

“I am so pleased, the outcome was marvelous,” Mr. Lui said. “I have spoken to friends of mine who had the conventional prostate surgery and they are all amazed at this procedure that I had. I lost hardly any blood and needed no transfusions.”
Mr. Lui is among the growing number of men with prostate cancer who are choosing robotic surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center to treat their disease. Dr. Savatta and his partner, Louis Galdieri, MD, of Morris Township, perform the robotic prostatectomy procedure at Newark Beth Israel using the daVinci Surgical System developed by Intuitive Surgical. Compared to traditional, “open” prostate surgery that leaves an 8-inch scar, requires 2-4 days in the hospital and 4-6 weeks at home to recover, surgery with the daVinci robot is far less invasive and is increasingly becoming the treatment choice of men with prostate cancer.

“The robotic procedure is better for the patient than an open operation in every way,” said Dr. Savatta. “We expected our patients to have much quicker recoveries and minimal blood loss, but the most amazing part of the recovery is seeing how quick they regain control of their urine and are able to get erections. The da Vinci system essentially allows you to perform microscopic surgery on the prostate.” Men who have undergone the robotic procedure are able to return to work within 1-2 weeks of the operation, and their blood loss during the procedure is so minimal that they are no longer asked to donate their own blood pre-operatively, as patients undergoing the open operation are asked to do.

Dr. Galdieri, who has been performing the open prostatectomy for 20 years, said the use of robotics is changing medicine. “We have yet to transfuse any of our robotic patients. This is a very exciting option for men with prostate cancer. Patients of mine that feared surgery and would opt for radiation treatment are now choosing surgery more often.”

The FDA-approved daVinci Surgical System gives surgeons the control, range of motion and 3-D visualization that is characteristic of open surgery. Robotic-assisted surgery incorporates techniques that allow the surgeon to operate through several small incisions about the size of a dime. The daVinci system consists of a surgeon’s console, a patient-side cart, a high performance 3-D vision system and EndoWrist articulating instruments. In the operating room, the surgeon sits at the console with his hands on the master controls and his eyes on a 3-D image of the surgical field. From the patient-side cart, four robotic arms and one endoscope arm precisely translate the surgeon’s movements through small incisions in the patient.

Surgeons at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center have been using the daVinci Surgical System since the winter of 2003, when the medical center’s cardiothoracic surgery team, under the direction of Craig Saunders, MD, began using it to perform procedures including mitral valve repair and “beating heart” coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Since then, Newark Beth Israel pediatric urologist Jeffrey Stock, MD, became the first physician in the state to use the daVinci system to perform robotic surgery on pediatric patients, in this case pyeloplasty, a procedure to repair a blockage in the kidney. Dr. Stock has since added other robotic procedures to the list of options he offers his patients.

To locate a physician who performs robotic surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, please call 1-800-THE-BETH.
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is a 671-bed regional referral teaching hospital with specialized programs including heart and kidney transplantation, cardiac surgery, oncology, and maternal/child health services. Newark Beth Israel is the site of Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, the state’s premier hospital caring for children, with specialized services to treat ill and injured children from newborn through adolescent years, including more than 30 pediatric specialties.

Source: Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
Release Date: May 2005

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