Prostate cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer among patients in Australia. To treat the condition surgically, patients have the option to either choose open surgery or laparoscopic surgery, external radiotherapy or brachytherapy, or robotic radical prostatectomy. While the first few methods are more conventional and have been in practice for some time now, the last one is their slightly new and more advanced counterpart.
Robotic prostatectomy uses a robot with four arms that are inserted into the patient’s abdomen through small incisions. Linked to a console these robotic arms are manoeuvred by a surgeon to perform the operation. Benefits of this procedure includes enhanced visualization, better precision and improved control of the movements. The operation is also touted as minimal invasiveness and the actual duration of the operation is known to be shorter than conventional open surgery whereas recovery times are quicker allowing patients to return to their regular routines much faster.
Robotic prostatectomy also promises less trauma for the patient, precise results as well as no waiting times for the operation.
However, the cost factor involved in robotic prostatectomy is greater than that found in open incision surgery. Treatment by robotic prostatectomy involves the cost of using the robot, initial setup as well as regular maintenance of the apparatus. Surgical instruments that are linked to the arms need to be changed after a certain number of operations, the cost of which can translate into a $4000 charge for every patient.
The Cost Of Robotic Prostatectomy
The cost of the operation will also vary individually based on the type of health insurance the patient carries. Additional costs, like hospital charges, together with bed and theatre costs and disposable surgical supplies will also feature in the total cost. The final expenses incurred will also include surgeon’s fees along with those of the anaesthetist, surgical assistant and any other medical specialists involved in the process.
While some of these cost components may be covered by Medicare and private health funds, chances still remain that a bulk of the cost will be out of pocket expenses for the patients. The scheduled fee for prostate surgery amounts to around $1500 whereas the different expenses involved in robotic prostatectomy can go up to a hefty $12,500. That can leave patients with an astronomical $11,000 to pay out of their personal funds.
While the procedure definitely offers some advantages to patients there are also a number of risk factors involved. A survey carried out by the Harvard Medical School shows that patients who had opted for robotic prostatectomy were more susceptible to the possibility of contracting infections, and were at a higher peril for incontinence and impotence. In addition survey results also indicated that there was no difference in the probability that the cancer had been treated successfully when compared to those who had undergone traditional open surgery.
Whether it is open surgery, or one done with the aid of a robot, all patients need to discuss the details with their doctor and urologist. Choice of the best treatment will be based on the type and location of cancer as well as the size of the prostate.
1) Surgery successful, but the sex needs help: prostate cancer: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/surgery-successful-but-the-sex-needs-help-prostate-cancer/story-e6frg8y6-1225901860481
2) Keen edge of cyber surgery: http://www.smh.com.au/national/keen-edge-of-cyber-surgery-20091209-kk3u.html
3) More on the real cost of surgery: http://www.theriskstore.com.au/resources/4/Risk_Read_Archive_Issue_88_24_Sept_09.pdf