Purpose: To analyze and compare the safety and peri-operative outcomes of fellowship-trained robotic surgeons (FEL) and experienced open surgeons (OE) incorporating robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP) into practice. Materials and Methods: Multiinstitutional, prospective data were collected on the first 30 RALP performed by FEL and OE (defined as over 1000 prostatectomies) incorporating RALP into practice. Morbidity from the peri-operative course was evaluated as were operative outcomes. The second 30 cases from the OE group were evaluated to assess for improvement with experience. Results: There were no rectal injuries or death in either group. Blood transfusion rates did not differ between the two groups (2% vs. 3%, p=0.65). Open conversion occurred three times in the OE group but only within the first 30 cases. In the first 30 cases FEL had statistically lower rates of positive margins (15% vs. 34%, p=0.008) and decreased likelihood of prolonged urethral catheter leakage (5% vs. 19%, p=0.009). The FEL group had lower rates of failure of prostate-specific antigen to nadir <0.15ng/mL (2% vs. 10%, p=0.056). There were no reoperations in the FEL group but present in 2% of the OE group initially. The second 30 cases of the OE group noted a statistical improvement for all parameters with margin rates and the requirement of prolonged catheterization becoming statistically comparable to those of the FEL group. Conclusions: OE can safely incorporate RALP into practice and achieve outcomes comparable to FEL quickly. As anticipated, FEL achieve these endpoints earlier in their practice.
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