Laparoscopic prostate surgery is used to remove all or part of a man's prostate gland, usually because of prostate cancer. As opposed to traditional open prostate surgery which requires a fairly large incision, laparoscopic prostate surgery uses multiple tiny incisions to insert a viewing scope and the surgical instruments. Laparoscopic surgery reduces healing time and pain from the incision and may reduce the chance of side effects, but this fairly new procedure for prostate surgery has both pros and cons.
Radical prostatectomy is the most often performed surgery for prostate cancer. This means that the entire prostate is removed, which is curative for men whose cancer has not spread to other organs and systems. Due to the position of the prostate and the nerves surrounding it, men who have had this surgery may have temporary or permanent problems with incontinence and an inability to achieve erection. The objective of prostate surgery is to remove the cancer and prevent its spread while minimizing side effects so that men can lead normal lives after the surgery. Many medical professionals think that laparoscopic prostate surgery will do this more effectively than open surgery.
Laparoscopic surgery, in general, has advantages over open surgery. Smaller incisions mean less bleeding, less pain, and a shorter healing period for most patients. There is a strong push for minimally invasive techniques like laparoscopy in the medical field in general, and so more surgeries are being performed in this way and more new surgeons are being trained in these techniques. Specifically regarding prostate surgery, laparoscopy may make it easier to preserve the nerves surrounding the prostate, and so men may maintain erectile and urinary function.
Most of the disadvantages of laparoscopic prostate surgery are due to the relative newness of this technique. Open prostate surgery has been performed for decades, but laparoscopic surgery for prostate cancer has a shorter history. It is possible that some cancer may be missed that could only be seen in open surgery, especially if the surgeon is trying to preserve the nerves around the prostate gland. Best practices for this surgery are still in development.
Complications and side effects can still occur with laparoscopic prostate surgery. These include complications related to any surgery, such as reaction to anesthesia or excessive bleeding, as well as prostate specific concerns such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Laparoscopic prostate surgery may make preserving the important nerves easier, but this is not guaranteed and patients should still maintain a realistic outlook. The skill and experience level of the surgeon and the surgical team is critically important for the success of any surgical procedure, and patients should ensure that competent and experienced surgeons are chosen for laparoscopic prostate surgery.