Prostate Cancer

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Prostatectomy FAQ

Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Your Prostate Surgery 
(Radical Prostatectomy)

 

How long does the operation take?
Surgery itself usually lasts three to four hours. However, it generally takes five to six hours from the time you leave the pre-op area until you arrive in the recovery room. You will be unable to see your family for an additional two hours, the period most people are in the recovery room.

 

How long will I be in the recovery room after surgery is done?
Generally, you will be in the recovery room for two hours. This may be longer depending on how readily available are the rooms on the ward.

 

What kind of room will I go to after the recovery room?
Most of our patients recover on the ward, which has nurses specialized in the care of patients with prostate cancer. Often, patients’ families are able to stay with them in their rooms.

 

Will I need to be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)?
Rarely do patients need to go to the ICU after routine prostate surgery. If the patient has underlying medical problems, or if the operation is complicated, the patient may need to be in the recovery room for several days after surgery. This enables us to closely monitor your vital signs and overall condition.

 

What are the potential complications of this surgery?
All surgical procedures have inherent risks. Obviously, we would not perform your operation if we felt that the risks of surgery out-weighed the benefits. During your initial meeting and consultation, we will discuss the potential complications of bleeding, infection, incontinence (loss of urinary control), bladder neck contracture, impotence (loss of sexual function), injury to surrounding tissues (i.e. rectum, bladder, and ureters), the need for further treatment, blood clots, and the risks of anesthesia (heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and death).

 

What can I do before surgery to be optimally prepared?
It is important to refrain from aspirin or aspirin-like compounds (i.e. Motrin™, Advil™, ibuprofen) for at least one week before surgery. The day before your operation, you may be instructed to begin a liquid diet and take a bottle of Fleets™ phosphosoda, depending upon the anticipated extent of the operation.

 

What medications will I need when I go home?
At time of discharge, you will be given prescriptions for pain medications and stool softeners, if necessary.

You will go home with a catheter draining your bladder through your urethra (exiting through the tip of your penis). This will remain in place an average of 7 days

 

What limitations will I have after I go home?
Most people recover quite rapidly from their prostate surgery. Some begin working after only a few days or weeks. Nonetheless, because recovery can be variable, you should forewarn your employer that you will be absent from your job for six weeks after open prostatectomy, and for two to three weeks after laparoscopic prostate surgery. During this period you should refrain from vigorous exercise and lift no more than ten pounds at a time. You should refrain from driving while the catheter is in place.

 

Deciding When to Schedule Your Prostatectomy
Many patients have pre-existing obligations and commitments when their prostate cancer is diagnosed. The following information is being supplied to help you decide when is the most optimal time for your operation.

 

Hospital stay
You should plan on being in the hospital for two to three days (including the day of surgery) after both open and laparoscopic prostate surgery.

 

Time off work
Most people recover quite rapidly from their surgery. Some begin working after only a few days or weeks. Nonetheless, because recovery can be variable, you should forewarn your employer that you will be absent from your job for six weeks after open prostatectomy, and for two to three weeks after laparoscopic prostate surgery. During this period you should refrain from vigorous exercise and lifting more than ten pounds.

 

Preparations for surgery
One to two weeks before your operation you will need to meet with the anesthesiologists at The University of Chicago. At that same time, you will be given the opportunity to donate blood to be used, if necessary, at the time of surgery. The day before surgery you may be placed on a clear liquid diet and given a laxative, in order to clean out the rectum.

 

Time between diagnosis of prostate cancer and surgery
The growth rate of prostate cancer varies from person to person. Many patients can delay surgery safely for two to three months after the diagnosis is made. In fact, we rarely perform surgery for before six weeks has elapsed since the biopsy is performed to allow for resolution of inflammation. Hence, there is some flexibility in scheduling your operation and each individual case needs to be reviewed with a surgeon to determine the optimal timing of surgery.

 

Limitations after surgery
Most people recover quite rapidly from their surgery. Some begin working after only a few days or weeks. Nonetheless, because recovery can be variable, you should forewarn your employer that you will be absent from your job for six weeks after open kidney surgery, and for two to three weeks after laparoscopic surgery. During this period you should refrain from vigorous exercise and lift no more than ten pounds at a time.

 

Planning vacations
Because of the risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), it is prudent to wait at least three weeks after surgery before flying in an airplane. Otherwise, the major limitations to travel involve your comfort with traveling.
 

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