Shortening hospital stay for prostate cancer surgery

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Twenty years ago patients needing prostate cancer surgery faced a two-week stay in hospital. Today some patients at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London are home within 23 hours, and doing well.

In a trial believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, renowned urologist Dr. Stephen Pautler has successfully reduced the length of stay for robot assisted radical prostatectomy (RARP) patients from the current standard of three days to 23 hours, with outpatient surgery being the ultimate goal.

The RARP is a procedure performed using the latest robotic da Vinci Surgical System, a unique platform that allows instruments to be inserted and manipulated through small incision sites, and involves removal of a cancerous prostate gland.

“By performing this surgery robotically, carefully selecting candidates based on their physical fitness and following a specific recovery plan, we have safely discharged patients home sooner than ever before,” says Dr. Pautler.  “Patients prefer to recover in the comfort of their own home and with the right support and physiotherapy our patients are having successful outcomes.”

Development of this new process was a collaborative effort among St. Joseph’s care team and includes support in the home after surgery through Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).

Long-haul truck driver Jack Caris was back behind the wheel within three weeks of his surgery at St. Joseph’s and well enough to take a trip to Europe with his wife soon after. “I hardly had any pain at all,” says Caris.  “I had a friend who was diagnosed with prostate cancer around the same time as I was and he had open surgery instead of robotic surgery and it took him eight weeks to recover.”

Back on the road and enjoying life, Caris is grateful for the “awesome” care he received from Dr. Pautler, St. Joseph’s staff, and the CCAC. His wife Rose was worried about the short hospital stay at first, “I was concerned when Dr. Pautler said Jack would be home the next day because I knew he would have a catheter for two weeks and I didn’t know how to care for him. Everyone at St. Joseph’s was very kind and explained everything to us really well and CCAC was very supportive.”