Urologic Robotic Surgery | MedStar Health
Ryan Cleary is a urology and robotic surgery specialist with MedStar Health in Baltimore Maryland.

Robotic-assisted surgery offers better precision, fewer complications than traditional open surgery.

When medication and other non-surgical treatments don't relieve symptoms, we may recommend urologic robotic surgery as a treatment option. At Medstar Health, our urology specialists perform minimally invasive robotic surgery using the da Vinci® surgical system.

The da Vinci surgical system allows physicians to perform minimally invasive procedures through small incisions using robotic technology. The robot's unique EndoWrist instruments offer physicians the dexterity not possible when using conventional laparoscopic instruments. In addition, by offering the surgeon, urologist, or oncologist a high-definition 3-D view, the da Vinci surgical robot allows physicians to better distinguish and preserve vital muscles and delicate nerve tissues surrounding the operative area.

Patients undergoing robotic-assisted urologic surgery benefit from many advantages over traditional surgery, including less postoperative pain, smaller incisions, and quicker recovery times.

Our approach

We're leaders in innovative surgeries that treat malignant and benign urologic conditions.

We have the most experienced robotic surgeons in the mid-Atlantic region, with over 3,500 robotic cases since 2003. In fact, we’re among the top providers in the region to perform prostate cancer surgery. In addition to prostate cancer, we treat the full range of cancers in organs of the urinary system, including bladder, kidney, penile, and testicular cancers. We also treat non-cancerous, general urologic conditions with robotic surgery, when appropriate.

We’re proud to offer innovative, minimally invasive treatments, such as:

  • Retzius-Sparing Robotic Assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP): We are a national leader in the RARP procedure. This treatment can significantly reduce the risk of urinary incontinence, expedite your healing process, and improve quality of life without compromising outcomes.
  • Athermal Nerve Sparing Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (NS-RALP): Used to treat early-stage prostate cancer in sexually active men, this option offers fewer side effects and excellent results.

One of the first and only to offer Retzius-sparing robotic prostatectomy, our patients experience better urinary outcomes after surgery.

We are pioneers of a game-changing robotic procedure that allows us to surgically treat prostate cancer with less impact on urinary function following surgery. Retzius-sparing robotic prostatectomy, an innovative surgical approach to treat men with prostate cancer, has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of urinary incontinence, or urine leakage. As a result, the procedure substantially improves our patients' quality of life without compromising cancer outcomes.

Only the 3rd of its kind in the United States, we're leading this study which involves data gathered from 140 radical prostatectomies performed over four years by Keith Kowalczyk, M.D., director of Urologic Oncology at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. The findings show that, in comparison to standard robotic prostatectomy, men undergoing Retzius-sparing robotic prostatectomy:

  • Had higher rates of continence (98% vs. 81%),
  • Achieved continence earlier (49 vs. 64 days)
  • Demonstrated 80% lower risk of suffering from incontinence one year following surgery
  • Had significantly better overall quality of life one year following surgery

At MedStar Health, we perform more retzius-sparing robotic prostatectomies than anyone else in the mid-Atlantic region, making us a leader in prostate cancer care.

Types of urologic robotic surgery

  • Prostate cancer

    Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men not involving the skin. Often, men won’t notice any health problems, as prostate cancer tends to grow slowly. The treatment for prostate cancer is dependent on the patient’s specific diagnosis. Your physician will work with you to determine your best treatment option.

    Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy is the most common robotic surgery performed at MedStar Health. During the procedure, the prostate gland and the seminal vesicles are removed. This treatment is highly precise, contributing to its reputation as the standard of care for prostate cancer surgery.

  • Bladder cancer

    The bladder is a hollow muscular organ located in the lower part of the abdomen that collects and stores urine from the kidneys until it is passed out of the body. Typically, blood in the urine is the first indication of bladder cancer. However, bladder cancer may also cause a constant urge to urinate —even when the bladder is empty. These symptoms may also be related to non-cancerous conditions. For this reason, if you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with your doctor.

    Robotic-assisted cystectomy is a minimally invasive surgical method for treating bladder cancer. This procedure offers patients with bladder cancer the prospect of a more effective surgery and fewer problems during recovery. Minimally-invasive, robotic technology allows surgeons to make smaller incisions, which spare vital but delicate, nerve and muscle tissue. Following a robotic cystectomy procedure, patients experience a shorter hospital stay, fewer complications, and a faster recovery time.

    The treatment for bladder cancer is dependent on your unique diagnosis. Your physician will work with you to decide what treatment will offer you the best outcomes.

  • Kidney cancer

    Each year, more than 50,000 individuals are diagnosed with kidney cancer. For many, kidney cancer is discovered when imaging procedures are performed for other conditions. For some, abdominal pain, back pain, or anemia may indicate the presence of kidney cancer.

    Robotic-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy delivers the efficacy of open surgery with a safe method for removing small renal tumors while preserving surrounding kidney tissue. Using a near-infrared camera and a benign tracer injected into the blood, surgeons can see the blood supply to the kidney and tumor and differentiate cancerous tissue from normal kidney tissue. This allows for better control of the kidney's blood supply, potentially less injury to the area surrounding the kidney, and limits the risk of leaving any tumor behind.

    This minimally invasive technique leaves patients with less discomfort and allows them shorter hospital stays, earlier return to daily activities, and smaller incisions.

  • Upper urinary tract reconstruction

    There are benign conditions of the upper urinary tract that may require surgical reconstruction. These conditions include ureteropelvic junction obstruction and ureteral obstruction.

  • Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction

    Ureteropelvic junction obstruction is a condition where a blockage occurs where the ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder) and the kidney meet. This blockage may cause urine to build up in the kidneys.

    Robotic-assisted laparoscopic pyeloplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure used to repair congenital or acquired narrowing or scarring of the ureteropelvic junction. During pyeloplasty, the obstruction is removed, and the urinary tract is then reconstructed. Damage caused by the build-up of fluid pressure is repaired before the ureter and kidney are sutured back together.

    This minimally invasive procedure incorporates the same efficacy and safety as open surgery with less pain after surgery, a shorter hospital stay, and earlier return to work and daily activities.

  • Ureteral obstruction

    Ureteral obstruction may be acquired when a blockage in the ureter prevents urine from passing easily from the kidney into the bladder. Additionally, a ureteral obstruction may occur due to the ureter being damaged during abdominal surgery or after gynecologic surgery.

    If the ureter is damaged, it may be possible to reattach the ureter to the bladder with ureteral reimplantation. Our state-of-the-art da Vinci® robotic surgical system allows our surgeons to perform a precise, minimally invasive procedure through a few tiny incisions with enhanced vision, dexterity, and control.

Looking for expert cancer care?

With multiple locations throughout the region, patients have access to many of the nation’s renowned cancer specialists offering high quality care, second opinions and a chance for better outcomes close to where they live and work. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), serves as the research engine allowing patients access to clinical trials that often lead to breakthroughs in cancer care.