Pelvic lymph node dissection (PLND) at the time of radical cystectomy for urothelial carcinoma of the bladder is critical for accurate staging and may improve oncologic outcomes. Minimally invasive approaches have been criticized for limiting the extent of the PLND. We reviewed our experience with PLND and its perioperative outcomes with robot-assisted laparoscopic radical cystectomy (RARC).
Data were collected prospectively from 50 patients scheduled for RARC. Included in the analysis were patients who had RARC and a standard PLND. The entire extirpative portion of the procedure was performed using the da Vinci Robot (Intuitive Surgical, Sunnyvale, CA, USA).
A total of 41 patients were included in the study: 30 men and 11 women with a mean age of 69.7 years (range 49–85) and a mean body mass index of 26.9 (range 19.5–43.7). The median total operative time was 497.77 min (320–805). The mean estimated blood loss was 253.66 ml (range 50–700). The transfusion rate was 44% (18 out of 41) ranging from 0 to 4 units (median 0 units of blood). The mean total number of lymph nodes retrieved was 25.07 (range 4–68). Nodal metastases were seen in 14.63% (6/41). Rate of positive surgical margin was 4.87% (2/41). The median length of hospital stay was 8 days (5–37). The median duration of nasogastric tube, time to ambulation, first clear liquid intake, passage of colonic gas, time to bowel movement, and start of solid food intake were 1 (0–5), 2 (1–7), 3 (2–10), 4 (1–6), 5 (2–11) and 6 days (3–24), respectively.
An adequate PLND, comparable with that recommended for open surgery, can be performed safely with robot assistance. The perioperative outcomes were likewise comparable with that of the gold standard, open cystectomy.