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Patient Stories

Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Surgery

Urology Brochure (.pdf)

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This breakthrough, minimally invasive surgical approach, which enables major surgery to be performed through the smallest of incisions, is ideal for delicate urologic surgery.  Using hand controls that manipulate robotic instruments surgeons can access spaces inside the body otherwise very difficult to reach. This leading-edge technology has been shown to improve patients’ recovery experience and clinical outcomes with such benefits as:

  • A shorter hospital stay
  • A faster return to normal daily activities
  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Fewer complications
  • Less scarring

Using the da Vinci robotic surgical system, the urologist sits at a console in the operating room wearing special gloves to manipulate tiny robotic instruments and eliminate tremor. These instruments can make all the movements of the human hand within a very small space, greatly improving the surgeon’s dexterity and range of motion compared to traditional laparoscopic surgery. In addition, the surgeon can view the surgical field magnified up to ten times on a high-definition monitor, which greatly improves visualization and precision.

It takes experience to acquire proficiency with the da Vinci Surgical System, however. Our urologists have the most extensive experience in the region and one of the most active robotic-assisted prostatectomy programs in the nation, having used this advanced surgical technology on over 1,000 robotic procedures operating on kidneys, bladders, and prostates.  The robotic-assisted procedures in which we have particular expertise include:

  • Robotic-Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (prostate removal) Maine Medical Center’s urologists have the most experience with robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomies in Maine; in fact, our program is the second largest in all of northern New England. This depth of experience is reflected in our outstanding patient outcomes. We track detailed data on all robotic-assisted radical prostatectomies at MMC, which shows the patients experience 80 percent less bleeding with the robotic procedure than with open surgery. In addition, transfusion rates are dramatically lower (at less than one percent), patients spend half the time in the hospital and return to normal activities within two weeks after surgery – versus six with open surgery. View more information about robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy. Cancer control, urinary continence and sexual function outcomes are equal to or better with the robotic surgical approach than with open surgery. In prostatectomy surgery, the target site is tightly confined and is surrounded by nerves affecting sexual function. Using the da Vinci, the surgeon has a more precise and effective way to spare these delicate and critical surrounding nerves.
  • Robotic-Assisted Partial Nephrectomy (kidney removal) Partial nephrectomy has emerged as a standard of care treatment to remove small kidney tumors without removing the entire organ but requires a very experienced robotic surgeon.  This procedure is only available at a small number of hospitals, including Maine Medical Center. Performing a procedure called a partial nephrectomy the surgeon can remove small tumors from the kidney without removing the entire organ with the use of the surgical robot.  As a result, in 2009 the American Urological Association issued guidelines recommending partial nephrectomy as the standard of care for small renal masses. Because of the steep learning curve involved in robotic-assisted urologic surgery, this procedure is only available at a small number of hospitals, and Maine Medical Center is among them.
  • Robotic-Assisted Radical Cystectomy (bladder removal) Robotic-assisted cystectomy is quickly becoming the favorable surgical approach to bladder cancer for select patients.  Surgeons can operate without making large incisions, thus preserving vital nerves and muscle tissue, and reconstruct the bladder more precisely.
  • Robotic-Assisted Pyeloplasty Pyeloplasty is an operation to relieve obstruction at the junction between the kidney and ureter (a condition called ureteropelvic junction, or UPJ, obstruction). Once the obstructed part is removed, urine can flow freely from the kidney to the bladder. Urologists at Maine Medical Center are performing pyeloplasty for reconstructive kidney surgery using robotic-assisted surgery, providing a minimally invasive surgical option for appropriate patients.