A robotic radical prostatectomy involves a single incision (one centimeter, or less than half an inch, in length) around the navel to insert a thin, lighted tube with a telescopic camera on its tip (called a laparoscope).
A harmless gas is introduced into the abdomen to create a space large enough to perform the surgery. Three or four small keyhole incisions are then made through which the robotic ports and instruments operate. The surgical DaVinci Robot is then attached to the ports. The operation is performed with specialized surgical instruments inserted, and the prostate (and, if necessary, lymph nodes and surrounding tissue) is removed.
Unlike conventional laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgery enables a surgeon with 3-D vision, 12 times optical magnification and several degrees of motion.
Although it is not always possible due to the size and location of cancer, one of the primary goals of radical prostatectomy is to be "nerve-sparing." This means that the surgeon preserves the web of tiny nerves that control erections. This extremely delicate and precise technique is made possible with the laparoscopic approach because of the quality of the visualization of the surgical field, due to the magnification of the surgical area and reduced bleeding.