Aim: Laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is being evaluated throughout the world. The aim of the present study is to report early multi-institutional experience of the procedure in Japan. Methods: A total of 148 men who were diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer underwent laparoscopic radical prostatectomy at seven different institutions in Japan. Early complications (within 30 days postoperatively) and postoperative convalescence were reviewed retrospectively. The median age of patients was 68.0 years (range, 51-80). Results: The median operative time was 403 minutes (range, 167-925; average, 427). Blood loss ranged from 50 to 5000 mL (median, 540; average, 856). A total of 66 complications were reported in 55 patients (37.2%). Intraoperative complications were noted in 25 of 148 patients (16.9%): 10 rectal injuries (6.8%); five bladder injuries (3.4%); five cases of subcutaneous emphysema (3.4%); two intestinal injuries (1.4%); one major vessel injury (0.7%); one ureteral injury (0.7%); and one obturator nerve injury (0.7%). Overall, 16 of 148 patients (10.8%) required open conversion or postoperative open surgical repair. The most common postoperative complications were anastomotic leakage (6.8%), wound-related complications (4.7%) and perineal pain (4.7%). The bladder catheter was removed on day 7 or earlier in 73 cases (49.3%). The median time to ambulation was 1 day (mean 1.4, range 1-5). Oral intake was started on postoperative day 1 in 67 patients (45.2%) and on postoperative day 2 in 65 (43.9%). Conclusion: Although laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is technically demanding, reduced blood loss and shorter convalescence periods can be expected from the procedure. Surgeons should be aware of the disturbingly high morbidity rate related to early experience. By mastering laparoscopic skills and sharing knowledge, surgeons could reduce the impact of the learning curve required to complete this procedure competently.
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