Robotic Surgery is the Future of Urology

The medical field of urology has long embraced technology by adopting innovative equipment and techniques soon after they are developed. One technical innovation that has been at the forefront of medical treatment is robotic surgery. Presently, robot-assisted techniques account for up to 50% of urologic surgeries. And in several types of procedures, particularly in cancer therapy, robotic surgery has become the standard approach.

Growing dominance

In recent years, urology training programs have increasingly emphasized instruction in robotic systems. In fact, more than 70% of existing urology training and subspecialty fellowships focus on teaching minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic procedures. With this continued emphasis during medical training, robotic systems are likely to become the leading method of urology surgeries.

Standard approach

Robotic surgical systems have become the standard approach in performing radical prostatectomy. When used properly, they result in reduced blood loss and scarring, decreased risk of nerve damage and preserved erectile function. Robot-assisted surgery is also the standard technique for partial and total nephrectomy (removal of the kidney). Robotic nephrectomy has a significantly shorter operating time, minimizes blood loss, and requires a shorter hospital stay than traditional open surgery.

In addition, robotic approaches have ensured that even the more technically challenging procedures are standardized, as with intra-corporeal urinary diversion and radical cystectomy. Urologists can now perform robotic cystectomy with intracorporeal diversions resulting in reduced complications.

Increased efficiency

Since urologic laparoscopic procedures are technically quite challenging, robotic systems have increasingly become the more efficient alternative. For instance, the da Vinci robotic system has finer surgical instruments that allow for smaller keyhole incisions. This gives urologists a high degree of freedom when working with very small spaces and ensures precise tissue dissection and surgical manipulations.

With da Vinci robotic surgery, the 10x magnification and high-definition imaging of internal structures ensures that nerves and tissue are unharmed. By facilitating the identification of key anatomic structures, the robotic system makes complex surgeries more successful.

Greater patient satisfaction

Robotic surgical systems have established minimally-invasive procedures as the centerpiece of urologic surgery. Urologists can now perform bladder, kidney, and prostate removal with superior pre-operative and post-operative outcomes compared to open surgery.

The benefits of the da Vinci robotic surgery have triggered a rising patient demand for robotic surgery. Most patients want a reduced risk of bleeding and shorter recovery time. With increased patient demand, robotic surgery will become even more in demand.

Revolutionized cancer therapy

Robot-assisted surgery has changed the way urological cancers are treated, allowing for the removal of bladder and kidney tumors using minimally invasive techniques. In younger patients with testicular cancer that has already spread to the lymph nodes, robotic surgery can now be used as an alternative to radiotherapy.

The da Vinci surgical procedure provides a superior prostate cancer survival rate and ensures that the prostate cancer is treated without postoperative urinary or erectile problems. It also enables urologists to conduct salvage operations on patients with recurrent cancer, helping to avoid or delay the need for chemotherapy.

At St Pete Urology, we believe robotic surgery is the future of urology. We are continually investing in cutting-edge robotic equipment and procedures that enable us to do a wide array of minimally invasive surgeries that achieve optimal outcomes for our patients. For more information on urologic disorders and surgical procedures, visit the St Pete Urology website.

9 Tips to Keep Your Bladder Healthy

The bladder’s function is to store urine and allow urination to be infrequent and controlled. Bladder problems may lead to bothersome issues such as incontinence, infections and overactive bladder. While you may not be able to prevent every possible bladder problem, taking appropriate measures can help to lessen many of them.

What should you do to keep your bladder healthy?

1. Drink plenty of fluid

Drinking plenty of fluid increases the volume and frequency of urination, which in turn helps to flush out bacteria from your bladder. Water is the best fluid for your bladder and should be at least half of your daily fluid intake.

Ideally, you should drink 6-8 eight-ounce glasses of water every day. But if you engage in intense exercise or activity, you may need to drink more to compensate for fluid loss. On the other hand, if you have a condition such as heart disease or kidney failure, you may need to drink less. Speak with your doctor about how much fluid is right for you.

2. Avoid smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop bladder control issues than non-smokers. Cigarette smokers also tend to have more severe bladder symptoms. For heavy smokers, there is a tendency to develop a chronic cough, which exerts added pressure on the bladder and worsens urinary incontinence. Plus, tobacco smokers are three times more prone to bladder cancer than non-smokers. Avoiding cigarette smoking is good for your bladder health.

3. Get active

Physical activity not only relieves bladder problems but also prevents fluid buildup in the legs. Fluid retention in the legs—usually due to heart disease or a sedentary lifestyle—can lead to bladder control issues. You can reduce fluid retention through low-impact moderate activity such as biking, swimming or walking briskly for at least 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.

4. Do Kegel exercises

Weak pelvic floor muscles are a common cause of urine leakage (incontinence). Kegel exercises target and strengthen pelvic floor muscles and keep urine from leaking when you sneeze, laugh, lift or have a sudden urge to urinate. Speak with your urologist about what kind of exercise will benefit you the most.

5. Avoid bladder irritants

Certain foods and beverages can irritate the bladder and trigger bladder problems. Known bladder irritants include alcoholic beverages, apples, apple juice, bananas, brewer’s yeast and carbonated drinks. Others are chilies, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee, cranberries, grapes, nuts, raw onions, raisins, soy sauce, tomatoes and vinegar.

While you don’t have to stop eating your favorite foods and drinks entirely, reducing the amounts can improve your bladder symptoms.

6. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight is a risk factor for incontinence, particularly stress incontinence. The excess weight exerts more pressure on the abdomen and bladder and weakens pelvic floor muscles. In fact, nearly 50-percent of older people who are overweight struggle with bladder incontinence.
By losing weight in the abdominal area, you can reduce pressure on the bladder and pelvic muscles and improve bladder control. In many cases, weight loss improves incontinence symptoms or gets rid of them completely. Make healthy food choices and engage in regular exercise to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

7. Prevent constipation

Bladder problems are quite common in people with constipation because a full rectum presses the bladder wall causing either outflow obstruction or increased spasm. Also, constipation makes pelvic muscles overactive, which causes dysfunction in stool and urine elimination and leads to an overactive bladder. You can reduce constipation by drinking enough water, eating high-fiber foods (like whole grains, fruits, and fresh vegetables), and being physically active.

8. Manage medications

Some medications can trigger bladder control problems. For example, high blood pressure prescriptions tend to increase urine output and relax bladder muscles resulting in urine leakage. Drugs such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, sedatives, and tranquilizers may hinder bladder contraction and reduce awareness of the need to urinate.

You should not stop taking your medications just because you suspect they are responsible for your bladder issues. Instead, and before making any change, speak with your doctor about your concerns. The doctor may adjust the dosage or offer a different medication. In cases where the benefits of the medications far outweigh the related bladder issues, your doctor will work with you on alternative ways to ease symptoms.

9. Flush out bacteria

Proper cleaning of the genital area before and after sexual intercourse helps to reduce bacteria and prevents bladder infections. Passing urine before and after sex helps to flush out bacteria and stops their entry into the urethra during sex.

Since holding urine in the bladder for too long increases the risk of infection and can weaken bladder muscles, make sure to pass urine as often as possible. Use the bathroom at least every 3 to 4 hours, and when urinating, don’t rush. Take your time to fully empty your bladder.

At St Pete Urology, we provide expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of urinary disorders. Our urology specialists will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan for your problems. We value our multidisciplinary and compassionate approach to caring for our patients. For more information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of urinary disorders, visit the St Pete Urology website.