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29 January 2007

A New Generation of Surgery

The Urological Hospital of the University of Heidelberg performs first minimally invasive, computer-assisted removal of bladder and prostate in Germany

For the first time in Germany, the radical removal of bladder and prostate has been successfully performed with the aid of a computer-assisted, minimally invasive surgical technique known as da Vinci laparoscopy. The patient was suffering from cancer of the bladder. During the operation a substitute bladder was formed from intestinal material and attached to the urethra, thus enabling him to pass water in the normal way.

Normally, this highly complex surgery, in which bladder, prostate gland, seminal vesicles and lymph nodes are removed, is performed via a major abdominal incision placing considerable strain on the patient. Minimally invasive surgery involves much less trauma for the patient, who is practically free of pain after the operation, recovers faster and can return home much earlier.

Successful use on prostate malignancies

The computer-assisted da Vinci operation system is a new, high-precision technique for low-trauma, minimally invasive surgery. This system has been successfully used for some time at the Heidelberg hospital in dealing with malignant prostate tumours.

"One advantage over and against conventional laparoscopy is the highly versatile instrument movement with six degrees of freedom," explains Dr. Christian Gilfrich, managing senior physician at the University of Heidelberg's Urological Hospital. Instrument movement can be performed with a degree of accuracy on the sub-millimetre scale. Variable optical magnification and 3-D imaging technology give the surgeon an optimal view of the surgical field. Surgery is highly precise and the risk of bleeding during the operation is reduced.

"In the United States this method is routine at many well-known hospitals," says Professor Markus Hohenfellner, medical director of the University of Heidelberg's Urological Hospital. Almost one-third of all radical prostate operations in America are performed with the da Vinci system. In Europe and Germany the system has rarely been used so far in the urology sector. Here the University Hospital in Heidelberg plays a pioneering role.

Please address any inquiries to:
Prof. Dr. Markus Hohenfellner
Medical Director
Urological Hospital
University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 110
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/566321 (secretary's office)

Further information on the internet:

General inquiries from journalists should be addressed to:
Dr. Annette Tuffs
Press and Public Relations Officer
Heidelberg University Hospital
Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
phone: 06221/564536
fax: 06221/564544
mobile: 0170/5724725
e-mail : Annette_Tuffs@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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