Where to access Robotic assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP)
There are da Vinci surgical robots in private hospitals in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch with Urological Surgeons performing robotic prostatectomy in each centre. At present, there are no robotic platforms available through the public system in New Zealand. Medical Insurance companies will almost always cover robotic prostatectomy, but it is important to check your policy. Self-funding robotic prostatectomy is expensive, and while set fees vary somewhat between hospitals, expect to pay in the order of $35,000 to $40,000. While there are advantages to robotic prostatectomy, think carefully about the financial burden before self-funding a procedure, as open surgery is available without cost through the public system.
It is far more important to have a properly trained and experienced prostate cancer surgeon perform your surgery than to have a robotic prostatectomy. A good open surgeon will have better outcomes than a poorly qualified robotic surgeon. Ask your surgeon where they trained in robotic surgery, how many procedures they have performed, and what their personal rates of cancer clearance, continence, and erectile function are. They should be forthcoming and happy to discuss their outcomes. Fellowship-trained surgeons will have spent at least one year in a large, high-volume overseas centre staffed by experienced trainers and focusing primarily on robotic surgery in order to overcome the “learning curve”; the number of operations required to achieve optimal outcomes.
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