Post authored by Rihab Sayed PT, DPT, and Dane Klett, MD
Robot Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP) is a minimally invasive procedure for removal of the prostate due to cancer. The prostate is a gland that surrounds the urethra (the tube that urine passes through as it exits the body). Recovery tends to involve one night in the hospital and placement of a foley catheter (a system for urine collection) for 10-14 days. Patients are advised to avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks following surgery. This allows the structures to heal before being challenged.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of RARP?
Due to the nature of the surgery, nearly all patients will experience urinary leakage following catheter removal. Many patients will overcompensate for leakage, or begin to form bad habits like voiding too frequently or limiting fluid intake. Although the surgery is minimally invasive, the structures that manage urine control are affected, and it takes time for them to relearn how to function correctly. This includes the intricate system of muscles that make up the pelvic floor.
How Can Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Help With Prostate Surgery?
Physical therapy is a conservative approach to managing dysfunctional muscles anywhere in the body, and the pelvic floor is no exception. Sometimes muscles seem "weak" because they are overly contracted or postural changes aren’t allowing normal motion. Every patient is different, and tailoring a program to each patient’s specific needs is important. This allows for recovery of function without developing bad habits and bringing new problems into the picture.
Anyone set to undergo removal of the prostate for prostate cancer should begin to take action for the best chance of recovering full, normal function afterward. Engaging your pelvic floor prior to surgery, under the guidance of a specially trained pelvic floor physical therapist, will set you up for a successful surgery. Returning to that physical therapist after surgery will ensure you are healing and regaining full function, as you should, so you can get back to doing the things you enjoy without limitations.
Where Can I Learn More About RARP and Other Pelvic Health Resources?
Robot assisted radical prostatectomy is the most commonly performed procedure for removal of the prostate. Exceptions to this approach are based on your medical history and on recommendation of your surgeon. If you want to learn more about this procedure or other pelvic health resources and options, call the CHI Health pelvic health navigator at 402-717-PELV.