What’s So Rad About a Radical Prostatectomy?

January 22, 2019

Not a laughing matter 

We all joke about the ol’ ‘Turn your head, and cough’, but approximately one out of nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, and that’s nothing to giggle at. Prostate cancer is a disease that typically develops in more mature men, with about six out of ten cases in men aged 65 or older. And when that prostate has gotta come out, you come to Dr. Shaw in Austin, TX. Let’s do a rundown of what he can do for you. 

What exactly is a radical prostatectomy?

A radical prostatectomy is a surgical treatment option for localized prostate cancer. The surgery involves removing the entire prostate gland and seminal vesicles, as well as the surrounding tissue, often including lymph nodes.  For patients with prostate cancer confined to the prostate, the chance of cure with surgery alone at 10 years (with an undetectable PSA) is more than 90 percent. We like those odds. The surgery might be used as a solo treatment option, but it can also be part of a broader treatment plan that may include radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. When you’re working with Dr. Koushik Shaw, MD, AKA the elite urologist Austin, TX offers, that treatment plan will be tailored to you and your needs. This isn’t exactly a cookie cutter operation after all.

So how is a radical prostatectomy performed?

There are 3 different surgical techniques commonly used to perform a radical prostatectomy, but at Dr. Shaw’s, we do our work with robots.

Robot-assisted surgery or Robotics (in the case of Dr. Shaw’s urology practice, the da Vinci System): A surgeon makes five incisions, smaller than a size of a dime, in the lower abdomen. These incisions allow for instruments attached to a “robot” to precisely target the prostate and surrounding tissue with minimal invasion. The surgeon stands ten feet away controlling the movements of the robot using a 3D, HD system allowing for more precision and greater dexterity.

As of 2011, 90,000 radical prostatectomies were performed each year in the U.S. Approximately 70,000 of those were done robotically, and by the next time the surgical census rolls around, you can expect that number to jump even higher.  There’s no making this procedure not sound like something off a sci-fi show. But the process is real, and more importantly, it’s effective.

So I don’t have anything to worry about?

We take care of you here, but any surgical procedure involves risks. The most common are:



-Urinary incontinence

-Erectile dysfunction

-Narrowing of the urethra or bladder neck

However, robotics seems to have the best cancer clearing outcomes with the least potential for risks and complications. Oftentimes, erectile dysfunction and/or urinary incontinence are temporary and your manhood’s normal function will continue to improve and be back at full capacity within a year of surgery. Pelvic floor physical therapy prior to and after surgery and certain medications can help minimize these risks, and we’re happy to talk you through the options.

How do you prepare for a prostatectomy?

-Additional office visits, surgical center appointments, imaging, blood work or other tests prior to surgery may be ordered.

-Make sure you let us know about any prescription or over the counter medications including vitamins or supplements.

-Inform the surgeon and surgery center of allergies or reactions to foods or medications.

-Discuss any complications from prior surgeries so we know what we’re working with.

– All food and non-water drink stops 12 hours prior to surgery. Try and sleep through as many of those hours as you can.

-Blood-thinning medication must be stopped. The length of time to discontinue the medication before surgery and wait to restart it after surgery will depend on the exact medication taken, and we’ll be sure to talk it through with you.

-Bowel prep done at home the morning of surgery will likely be required. It’s exactly what you think it is.

-Prepare to be unable to do strenuous activity for several weeks after surgery. The wife and kids are in charge of lawn mowing and tire changing now, but it’s okay. They’ve got YouTube.

-Pack a bag, you’ll be at the hospital for 24-48 hours post surgery for observation


Not too bad. But what happens immediately after surgery?

Directly after surgery, you’ll be held in a post-op room until you come to, then stabilized and transferred to a room in the hospital for the next 24-48 hours post. We tell your family how well you did, and what we let the interns draw on you, and then after your stay is over, you’ll be on your way home. There’ll be a couple of souvenirs going with you though. The catheter’s going to be your friend for the next 5-10 days, so get used to it for a bit. Same story with the surgical staples holding your incision closed. You’ll be taking it very easy for the next two weeks to a month though, so it shouldn’t be an issue. We’ll call during the healing process to check up on you, and make your follow-up appointments to have the staples and catheter removed as well as go over the next steps in the treatment plan.

And then it’s over?

Exactly. You continue to heal up, and we continue to keep the lines open and do our work. A urologist in Austin, TX is always a good find. But now that you’ve found Dr. Shaw and team, you can know you’ve got concierge-style surgical service ahead of you…and behind you.

Ready to make an appointment today? Let us know, and we’ll get you settled below the belt.