Objective: To evaluate the technical feasibility, oncological efficacy and intraoperative and postoperative morbidity of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Method: We describe an original technique of laparoscopic radical prostatectomy performed in 40 patients between 26th January and 12th October, 1998. Results: Radical prostatectomy was performed entirely by laparoscopy in 35 patients (87.5%) and only one conversion was performed in the last 26 patients (4%). Pelvic lymphadenectomy was performed in the light of preoperative staging data in 14 patients (35%). The median total operating time was 270 min. The only major complication was a rectal injury (patient 8), sutured laparoscopically with an uneventful postoperative course. Postoperative vesical catheterization lasted an average of 7.65 days. Seven patients were transfused (17.5%) with an average of 2.8 units of packed cells (range: 2–3). The reduction of postoperative pain is an element allowing for a rapid discharge of the patients by the 3rd postoperative day. The oncological results were as follows: 36 patients had a pT2 tumor (90%); prostate tumor was staged as N0 in 14 cases and NX in 26 cases. Surgical margins were negative in 33 patients (82.5%). Two patients had a doubtful resection margin (1 at the apex and 1 at the bladder neck) and 5 patients had positive margins. The last PSA level was undetectable (<0.1 ng/ml) in 26 (89.7%) of the 29 patients in whom PSA level was available more than 1 month after the operation. Functional results are not yet available and will be published later. Conclusions: Radical prostatectomy is an operation which can be routinely performed by laparoscopy by a team experienced with this technique. Operative and postoperative morbidity was low. Short-term oncological data appear identical to the results of conventional retropubic surgery. The improvement of operative visibility was considerable allowing a much more precise dissection. The laparoscopic approach appears to represent a technical improvement of the radical prostatectomy if the functional results of this operation improve parallel to the quality of dissection. A long-term follow-up is needed to define definitively the place of this new approach to radical prostatectomy.

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