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New prostate surgery not necessarily better: study


New prostate surgery not necessarily better: study

Men who have less invasive prostate cancer surgery — often done robotically — are more likely to be incontinent and have erectile dysfunction than men who have conventional open surgery, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Many men, especially those who are wealthy and highly educated, favor minimally invasive surgery because they assume the high-tech approach will yield better results, but the evidence on that is mixed, the team reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We found men undergoing minimally invasive versus open surgery were more likely to have a diagnosis of incontinence and erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Jim Hu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said in a telephone briefing.

Hu said use of minimally invasive surgery has taken off since the introduction and heavy marketing of robot-assisted surgery, such as the da Vinci system made by Intuitive Surgical Inc.

The system consists of robotic arms, controlled from a console, that allow surgeons to perform less invasive surgeries. Hospitals advertise the systems as being able to reduce trauma, blood loss, risk of infection, scarring and often pain.

Hu said so far, there have been few studies that compare minimally invasive surgery with open surgery.

To do that, he and colleagues used billing data from the Medicare insurance program for the elderly on procedures done from 2003 to 2007. During that time, use of minimally invasive surgery for prostate cancer increased fivefold.

While both approaches fared equally well as a cancer treatment, they found that men who got the minimally invasive approach had shorter hospital stays, were less likely to need blood transfusions, and had fewer breathing problems after surgery than those who got conventional surgery.

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