NEW YORK, NY (Marketwire – March 28, 2011)
Since its approval by the FDA in 2000, the da Vinci Surgical System has changed the face of prostate cancer treatment by incorporating cutting edge robotic surgery technology. By many experts’ accounts, robotic assisted prostatectomy is the best option available today for men who are suffering from prostate cancer and fear the possible side effects associated with other treatments and surgeries.
However, the da Vinci surgical robot is only part of the equation. It is only a tool and, as such, it is only as effective as the surgeon operating it. One patient who can tell you this first hand is Steve M. of Annapolis, Maryland (last name omitted for the sake of anonymity) who had the procedure performed at two different hospitals by two different surgeons, resulting in two vastly different experiences. Having been cured of his prostate cancer through the care of robotic surgery expert, Dr. David B. Samadi, the Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, Steve decided to share his story.
“It was Fall of 2009,” Steve starts, “I was 51 years old and I visited my doctor to inquire about a routine colonoscopy. Most doctors would have just checked my blood pressure and written me a referral to a guy with a scope. But my internist did more than just that. He did a digital rectal exam and found something he wasn’t too sure about and sent me to a urologist. I met with him, got a biopsy done and got those results just prior to Christmas 2009. I was in denial for a while afterwards. I wasn’t too excited with the Christmas present I got that year.”
Like the over 200,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, Steve, the son of an anesthesiologist and a nurse, did extensive research on his different options, both surgical and non-surgical. “The data for radiation; the results just don’t hold up after 10 or 15 years,” said Steve referring to the life expectancy of patients who undergo radiation therapy. “I plan on going a lot longer than that. Not knowing the long term viability of radiation, it just didn’t seem like the best option. I would have loved to have just watched and waited like a lot of other guys, but at 51, my mentality is that I don’t know how many times I can go to the table and throw the dice. Surgery seemed like the way to go.”
In February of 2010, Steve had a consultation with a “Dr. B” (this is a pseudonym; the doctor’s real name has been withheld for his privacy). The doctor told him that he would be a good candidate for a robotic prostatectomy. “I liked the idea of there being less blood loss, less trauma to my body, and a quicker recovery,” said Steve. According to Steve’s research, Dr. B had performed over 600 successful robotic prostate surgery procedures; a number of cases that Steve thought was more than sufficient for a positive surgical outcome. With the seasonal demands of his job about to ramp up, Steve made the decision to wait until October to have the surgery, a decision Dr. B fully supported.
Steve returned to Dr. B’s office in October of 2010, ready to be cured of cancer. He entered the OR and was put under general anesthesia. When he awoke more than 2 hours later, he was not pleased with what his doctor had to say. “I woke up expecting to hear everything went well. Instead, the doctor told me he had to abort the procedure because the airway pressure in my lungs was too high due to my weight; he didn’t want to risk potentially damaging them. He acted like I had wasted his time by messing with his success ratio. He pretty much told me to lose 30 pounds and consider open surgery or radiation instead,” recounted Steve, with tension in his voice. “It’s still kind of a mystery because post-op I went to a pulmonologist to have my lung and breathing functions tested and I checked out fine.”
Confused and scared, Steve told his story to his friends and family. “A work contact of mine put me in touch with a prostate cancer survivor who was treated by Dr. David Samadi. After speaking with him, he gave Dr. Samadi my cell phone number. He also urged me to call Dr. Samadi myself, but I was skeptical.”
Steve went on, saying, “It was a Thursday morning at work and I wasn’t about to call a doctor who basically didn’t know me from Adam.” He could never have expected what would happen next. “Next thing I know, my phone is ringing and it’s Dr. Samadi! That just blew me away to begin with. I mean, here is a person whose every waking moment should be accounted for and he took the time to just call me up out of the blue.”
December 17th, 2010 Steve flew from Annapolis to New York City for a consultation with Dr. Samadi. Samadi, who has performed over 3,200 successful robotic prostatectomy procedures with the da Vinci System, noticed immediately that Dr. B and his team had placed the ports for access to the prostate incorrectly. This had been the real reason for the surgical complications, not Steve’s weight. Hearing Steve’s story of being told he was not a candidate for robotic surgery due to his weight was one that Dr. Samadi had heard many times before; and left him undeterred.
On Steve’s ordeal, Dr. Samadi said, “What he went through was just terrible. As soon as I saw the incisions the previous surgeon had made I knew something was amiss. But I was convinced I could help him.” Steve was convinced too — he made an appointment to undergo surgery for the second time on February 14th of 2011.
Steve had a vastly different experience when he walked in for surgery that Valentine’s Day than he did with Dr. B over a year prior. “Dr. B estimated the procedure time to be 3-5 hours and couldn’t even get it started. Dr. Samadi had me cancer free and in the recovery wing in 59 minutes!” beamed Steve when speaking of Dr. Samadi’s surgical expertise. “Here I am just a little over a month post-op and I am cured. I have full urinary control and my sexual functionality is beginning to return.”
“Steve’s amazing experience further highlights that while the da Vinci surgical system may be man’s best weapon against prostate cancer, procedures done with the robot are extraordinarily complex and must be performed by highly experienced surgeons who have completed a large number of cases with favorable outcomes,” said Dr. Samadi. “The robot does not perform the surgery, a human does. Technology on its own is never enough.”
“It was hands down the best medical experience I have had in my life,” finished Steve. “None of this would have been possible without Dr. Samadi and his team.”
Dr. David B. Samadi