What is prostate surgery?

There are different types of prostate surgery available depending on what treatment is best suited to the individual. Radical prostatectomy is a common option that involves removal of the prostate gland.

Who can benefit from prostate surgery?

Patients suffering from prostate cancer whose cancer is limited to the prostate gland are suitable candidates for the radical prostatectomy type of prostate surgery.

Procedure

There are three main types of radical prostatectomy (prostate surgery), which are performed under general anesthetic:

  • Retropubic radical prostatectomy – This type of prostate surgery involves an incision in the abdomen, just below your belly button, and down towards the pubic bone. The prostate gland is cut away (while preserving the nerves that control the erection) from behind the pubic bone. Once the prostate gland is removed, the urethra is stitched to the bladder permitting the urine flow. A catheter (tube) is inserted into the bladder to allow fluids to drain, and is left in place for several days.
  • Perineal radical prostatectomy – Prostate surgery can also be done using keyhole surgery (laparoscopic). This involves using a small camera linked to a TV monitor to gain a more detailed view of the prostate gland, and smaller incisions are made resulting in less scarring. Your surgeon will talk through which procedure is best suited to you.

Recovery period

Recovery following these types of prostate surgery procedures usually requires a few days stay in hospital. The catheter will be removed around two weeks following your operation, as will any sutures. You will need to take up to two months off work, and avoid sexual intercourse during this time. Driving should be avoided for around one month. Painkillers can be taken for any discomfort you may experience.

Risks

As with any surgical procedure, prostate surgery involves certain risks. These include infection, bleeding, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, blood clots, abdominal pain, breathing problems and very rarely, can be fatal.