Initial experience of teaching robot-assisted radical prostatectomy to surgeons-in-training: can training be evaluated and standardized?


John W. Davis, Urology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe, Unit 1373 Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Study Type – Therapy (case series)
Level of Evidence 4


To measure the time and subjective quality of individual steps of robot-assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP), as RARP performed by trainees has recently become the most common technique of RP in the USA, and although outcomes from expert surgeons are reported, limited data are available to document training experiences.


The patients studied were from a prospective cohort of 178 participants (124 with training data). Transperitoneal RARP was performed by one faculty surgeon and one assistant from a rotation of four urological oncology fellows and three residents. RARP was divided into 11 steps, and staff times were recorded for each step. Trainee times and quality scores were recorded for each step, the later defined as grade A equal to staff (A+, no verbal coaching); B, minor corrections; and C, major corrections. Short-term outcomes were recorded to assess the safety of the training.


The mean (range) console time/case of trainees was 40 (10–123) min. The median console time for a complete case by faculty and by trainees (pooled group) was 128 and 231 min, respectively, an increase in 81%. Individual trainee-performed steps increased in time (compared to staff) by a median range of 50–177%, and the incidence of quality grades < A of 9–100%. Trainee quality grades for basic tissue-dissection steps were higher than for advanced tissue dissection and suturing. There was no downgrading for a major correction. Analysis of short-term outcomes suggested acceptable results in a training environment. The study is limited by no available validated training measurement tools, and a low frequency of beginner trainees advancing to more difficult steps during the rotation.


During the initial exposure of trainees to RARP of <40 cases, we measured time and subjective quality grading of basic steps, and introduction to advanced steps. Training requires more procedure time, but does not appear to diminish expected outcomes.