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Clinical Updates


Robotically assisted prostatectomy uses minimally invasive tools to treat cancer


Urological Minimally Invasive Surgery

A robotically assisted procedure puts the advantages of minimally invasive surgery in the hands of skilled cancer surgeons who have a wealth of experience in treating prostate cancer through open surgery. These tools allow them to apply their skills in successfully treating prostate cancer in a minimally invasive procedure while sparing nerves to preserve potency and sparing continence to preserve urinary control. The robotically assisted procedure is performed in the same manner as laparoscopic surgery, using five or six keyhole incisions, and offers the advantages of a minimally invasive procedure: reduced blood loss, reduced pain, shorter hospital stays and a significantly faster recovery. While traditional laparoscopic tools provide a limited range of motion, robotic tools offer greatly improved freedom of motion that is similar to that of the human hand. They can also scale their motions to achieve much more precise and fine movements without tremor. Visualization is improved with a more mobile camera system that provides a three-dimensional view.

UCLA has been offering robotic surgery for three-and-a-half years, one of the longest and most robust experiences in the country, with more than 350 cases performed. Extensive literature indicates that hospitals and surgeons performing a high volume of prostatectomy surgeries have the best results. In addition, UCLA has been conducting long-term study of quality of life for prostate cancer patients after radiation, open surgery and laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. Early results indicate that laparoscopic and robotic procedures do result in greatly reduced blood loss, shorter overall hospitalization and faster recovery times.

UCLA offers complete range of treatments

Robotically assisted prostatectomy can be offered to any patient who is a candidate for surgery, but may not be the most appropriate treatment in all such cases. For example, high-risk prostate cancer patients may benefit from open surgery because it allows for larger lymph node resection than do the minimally invasive surgeries. Approximately 90 percent of prostate surgery patients are candidates for robotically assisted prostatectomy.

Prior to offering robotically assisted surgeries, UCLA surgeons had completed thousands of prostatectomies with results that were among the best in the world. They have an eight-year history of proven results performing laparoscopic prostatectomies and an extensive minimally invasive surgery program that encompasses not only prostate cancer, but also pediatric urology, renal cancer and transplant surgery.

In addition to offering a full range of treatment options, including radiation, brachytherapy and cryotherapy, the UCLA program is integrated with research and clinical trial efforts to ensure that qualified patients who come to UCLA have access to the most advanced treatments currently being developed. UCLA was recently re-awarded a National Cancer Institute SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) grant; UCLA’s is the only such program in the Los Angeles area.

Patient referral

For a consultation or to refer a patient for evaluation or treatment, please call the patient referral line or contact one of the physicians directly.

(310) 794-7700 Patient Referral

Robert Reiter, M.D., M.B.A.
Director, Prostate Cancer Program
Department of Urology
(310) 794-7224

Peter Schulam, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Division of Minimally Invasive Surgery
Department of Urology
(310) 825-1172

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