Background and Purpose: Radical prostatectomy can be performed via a retropubic, perineal, laparoscopic, or robot-assisted laparoscopic approach. Our goal was to evaluate the actual charges incurred at our institution with patients undergoing retropubic prostatectomy (RRP), perineal prostatectomy (RPP), and robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP). Patients and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed all prostatectomy patients treated over a 22-month period (February 2002-December 2004). The case log included 78 RALPs, 16 RRPs, and 16 RPPs. Hospital charges were broken down into operative and nonoperative amounts. Operative times, blood loss, and length of hospital stay were all determined from the patient medical record. The robotic charges were divided further into the initial and final 20 cases. Results: There were significantly higher overall charges for patients undergoing RALP. The operative charges encountered during the robotic "learning curve" were substantially higher than those during our most recent 20 cases. This reduction seemed to correlate directly with the decreasing operative time. The mean operative time for RALP was 262 minutes (range 150-679 minutes). The mean operative time decreased to 225 minutes for our last 20 cases. In contrast, the mean times for RRP and RPP were similar, 202 minutes (range 142-348 minutes) and 196 minutes (range 105-337 minutes), respectively. Conclusion: Robot-assisted prostatectomy is associated with substantially higher operative and total hospital charges in addition to the capital expense incurred by the hospital in acquiring and maintaining the robotic system. The operative charges did decrease substantially (27%) once the learning curve had been overcome. Perineal prostatectomy, in experienced hands, remains the most cost-effective procedure, with lower operative costs and shorter times. There was no significant difference in the nonoperative charges in the three treatment groups secondary to the short hospital stay.
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