The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that helps a man produce semen and expel the fluid through the urethra. An operation to remove the gland, called a prostatectomy, often is done to treat prostate cancer.

A prostatectomy can be done in several ways. A traditional, or open, surgery, involves a single incision. The location of the incision depends on a man’s specific diagnosis.

Prostate removal at St. Dominic’s is done with minimally invasive surgery, which means your doctor will use one or two small incisions to perform the procedure. The type of surgery we use is called robotic laparoscopy:

  • A small lighted camera called a laparoscope and other instruments are inserted through the openings.
  • A doctor moves the surgical equipment using robotic arms from a computer near the operating table.

Robotic laparoscopic surgery to remove the prostate has been shown to be the best approach to avoid damage to surrounding muscle and nerves.

Sometimes, a doctor may begin a minimally invasive prostatectomy but decide during the surgery to switch to a traditional operation, which requires a larger incision. The switch is rare, occurring in about two percent of cases. When it does happen, common factors are obesity, scarring, and anemia.

Your doctor and you will discuss whether you are a candidate for laparoscopic surgery. If you are, you also will decide whether to choose robotic surgery. All surgical options for prostatectomy have advantages and disadvantages.

Anyone weighing the options for prostate removal surgery should ask himself these questions:

  • How well will the procedure remove the cancer or other disease?
  • How will my ability to urinate be affected, both in the short-term and long-term?
  • How will my ability to maintain an erection be affected, both in the short-term and long-term?
  • What kind of pain and discomfort will I have after the surgery?

The answers to these questions depend on more than the surgical option you chose. Your age, general health, and other factors also affect what type of procedure is best for you.

Kidneys are bean-shaped, fist-sized organs located below the rib cage. They filter the blood to produce one to two quarts of urine every day.

Removal of the kidney, a procedure called a nephrectomy, is essentially the only way to treat kidney cancer. High blood pressure, kidney stones and other conditions also might call for removal of a kidney.

A nephrectomy may be performed on a healthy person to allow that person to donate the organ. Most people live well with just one kidney.

At St. Dominic’s, a kidney removal is usually done with a conventional surgical incision. The hospital stay is one to two days.

If only part of the kidney is to be removed, your doctor likely will use a minimally invasive procedure called robotic laparoscopy. That type of operation involves about three or four small incisions in your abdomen and side. A small lighted camera called a laparoscope and other instruments are inserted through the openings. A doctor moves the surgical equipment using robotic arms from a computer near the operating table.

Removing part of the kidney with robotic laparoscopic surgery usually is inpatient. You will be able to go home within two to three days.

Laparoscopic removal of a kidney generally means less blood loss and a shorter recovery time than with an open surgery. A laparoscopic kidney removal takes longer than a traditional surgery and may be difficult for a patient who is very thin or very large.

After beginning surgery to remove part of a kidney, your doctor may decide that the entire kidney has to be taken out. It is also possible your doctor may convert the laparoscopic procedure to an open surgery with a traditional incision.

Neither type of conversion is very likely. Researchers studied what happens in laparoscopic surgery intended to remove part of a kidney. The procedure changes to removal of the entire kidney about 14 percent of the time and changes to a traditional open procedure in less than two percent of cases.

As with all surgery, there is a risk of infection or pain after surgery. Your doctor will provide detailed instructions on how make sure you heal as quickly as possible.