Men's Health

More Eye Injuries Seen with Robotic Prostate Surgery

More than 240,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Newer treatment options are improving care. But they have risks, too. A recent study found that men who have a type of surgery called robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy may have a higher risk for eye injuries.

Photo of doctor looking at a mans eyes

Robotic surgery widely used

Robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy is the complete removal of the prostate with the help of a robot. Doctors have been using this procedure for nearly a decade. In 2008, it was used in 50 to 80 percent of prostate cancer surgeries.

More doctors are recommending this treatment option. It provides a number of benefits for patients. Men who choose this type of surgery tend to have shorter hospital stays and a lower risk for infection. They also usually don't need as much pain medication afterward.

During the procedure, patients lie on a table, with their head lower than the rest of their body. While in that position, they are prone to face swelling, arm injuries, and eye damage. The most common eye injury is a corneal abrasion. That's when the surface of the eye is scratched.

A 10-fold increase

Researchers at the University of Chicago reviewed data from more than 136,000 surgeries that used a robot to remove the prostate. They found a 10-fold increase in the rate of eye injuries from 2000 to 2009. The rate rose from 0.07 percent to 0.42 percent. Possible reasons for this increase include:

  • Length of the surgery

  • The patient's position during the surgery

  • Something specifically related to the robot

Although the injury rate went up, the risk for eye injuries is still considered small.

"It is important for patients who are considering a robotic operation to discuss these concerns with their doctors to consider the risks and benefits of all options," says researcher Ajay Sampat, M.D.

The study was presented at the annual meeting for the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Cancer Society - Surgery for Prostate Cancer

National Cancer Institute - Prostate Cancer Treatment Option Overview

Prostate Cancer Foundation

December 2012

Questions to Ask About Treatment

At first, the information you learn about prostate cancer treatment options may seem overwhelming. You may ease the stress by allowing yourself the time to gather as much information as possible about your disease and its treatment.

You may find it helpful to make a list of questions before seeing your doctor. Use the list below as a starting place. To make the information easier to remember, take notes or ask if you can record the conversation.

  • Do I need to be treated right away? Is active surveillance (watchful waiting) an option?

  • What treatments do you think are best for me and why?

  • What is the length of the treatment period?

  • How long will each treatment take?

  • Who is involved in giving me the treatment?

  • Does someone need to go with me during treatments?

  • How will I feel after the treatment?

  • How long will side effects last?

  • What can I do to ease the side effects?

  • Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?

  • Should I change my diet? What foods can't I eat?

  • What would my options be if the treatment doesn't work or if the cancer comes back?

  • Are there any clinical trials I should look into?

  • Are there support groups nearby that I can join?

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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