Health Check: da Vinci Prostatectomy

Nearly 200-thousand men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. The good news is - there's a less invasive procedure, that uses a state-of-the-art surgical system that makes surgery - easier on doctors and patients. Serese Cole tell us about the da Vinci Prostatectomy in this month's Health Check.

Walking through the Fremont Area Medical Center will never be the same for Vern Gibson. It's where he received the news - he had cancer.

"You hear that and quite frankly you hear the fact that people don't make it, " said Vern Gibson

He was given a number of options, but choose the da Vinci Prostatectomy. Dr. Paulos Yohannes performed his surgery and 900 others like them.

Dr. Yohannes, "As a surgeon it's really revolutionized the way I do radical prostatectomy."

With the da Vinci, his vision is 10 times better. That means smaller, more precise incisions, less risks for patients and a shorter procedure.

Dr. Yohannes said, "Our first case took six hours, now we're able to do it an about an hour and a half to two hours."

The surgeon sits in a console just a few feet from the patient -where he controls the robotic arms - which work to remove the prostate gland.

The good news for da Vinci patients is they spend less time in the hospital recovering. They also experience less pain.

"I would say 85 to 90 percent of our patients don't take any pain medication once they go home," said Dr. Yohannes. "Overall, I think the big advantage is quicker recovery - back to normal activity."

The results vary from patient to patient. But most experience fewer complications with urinary continence or impotence.

Dr. Yohannes, "Guys in their 40s and 50s and some in the 60s will have a chance of full recovery of sexual function - that's about 75 - 85%."

"I did an overnight in the hospital. The next and afternoon I went home, " said Gibson.

Three years later, Vern says it was the best decision he has made.

"I'm very happy i did it."

Happy and walking in a new direction now that he's cancer-free.

The da Vinci is now the number one treatment in the world for localized prostate cancer. Seventy to 80 percent of the Radical Prostatectomy procedures performed are now done robotically. The da Vinci is also used for a number of other procedures including: open heart surgery, hysterectomy and uterine fibroid removal.

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