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Keywords:

  • robot;
  • laparoscopy;
  • bladder carcinoma;
  • radical cystectomy;
  • urinary diversion

OBJECTIVE

To develop a technique of nerve-sparing robot-assisted radical cystoprostatectomy (RRCP) for patients with bladder cancer.

PATIENTS AND METHODS

Robotic assistance should enhance the ability to preserve the neurovascular bundles during laparoscopic radical cystectomy. Thus we undertook RRCP and urinary diversion using a three-step technique. First, using a six-port approach and the da Vinci Surgical System (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA, USA), one surgeon carried out a complete pelvic lymphadenectomy and cystoprostatectomy using a technique developed specifically for robotic surgery. The neurovascular bundles were easily identified and dissected away, the specimen entrapped in a bag and removed through a 5–6 cm suprapubic incision. Second, a different surgical team exteriorized the bowel through this incision and created a neobladder extracorporeally. Third, the neobladder was internalized, the incision closed and the primary surgeon completed the urethro-neovesical anastomosis with robotic assistance.

RESULTS

RRCP was carried out in 14 men and three women by the primary surgeon (M.M.). The form of urinary reconstruction was ileal conduit in three, a W-pouch with a serosal-lined tunnel in 10, a double-chimney or a T-pouch with a serosal-lined tunnel in two each. The mean operative duration for robotic radical cystectomy, ileal conduit and orthotopic neobladder were 140, 120 and 168 min, respectively. The mean blood loss was < 150 mL. The number of lymph nodes removed was 4–27, with one patient having N1 disease. The margins of resection were free of tumour in all patients.

CONCLUSIONS

We developed a technique for nerve-sparing RRCP using the da Vinci system which allows precise and rapid removal of the bladder with minimal blood loss. The bowel segment can be exteriorized and the most complex form of orthotopic bladder can be created through the incision used to deliver the cystectomy specimen. Performing this part of the operation extracorporeally reduced the operative duration.