Purpose: To evaluate the influence of intensive laparoscopic skills training and self-critical video review on the learning curve for laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP). Patients and Methods: The initial 40 patients who underwent a transperitoneal LRP (groups 1-4) and the subsequent 20 who underwent LRP by the extraperitoneal approach (group 5) were studied. Eight weeks prior to initiating the LRP program, intensive laparoscopic skills training at a minimally invasive surgery center was undertaken for an average of 4, hours per week. This self-training was continued for 12 weeks into the program, with self-critical review of videotapes of each procedure. The groups were compared with respect to total operative time (ORT), anastomosis time, and blood loss. Results: There were significant differences in the ORT and anastomosis times between each of the first two groups and the last two groups (P < 0.001). The learning curve for ORT was overcome after approximately 35 cases, as there were no significant differences in ORT between group 3 and the subsequent groups. The anastomosis took longer to master, as significant time decreases were observed up to group 4, after which, the mean reached a plateau (group 4 v 5 P = NS). The differences in blood loss were not significant. Overall, there were 7 intraoperative (12.7%) and 8 postoperative (14.5%) complications. Conclusions: The use of similar facilities and training tools can help overcome the steep learning curve of LRP. Longer follow-up is needed to assess these means of attaining better functional results after LRP.
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