What does the operation involve and are there any risks?
Radical prostatectomy is a major operation with potential risks and complications. On average you will have to wait about one month for your operation. Bring any medication you are taking with you and show this to the nursing staff or doctor.
At the hospital
You will be asked to go to the hospital before the operation for routine checks, including:
- your blood pressure, pulse and temperature;
- a urine test;
- an ECG (tracing your heartbeats electrically);
- blood tests;
- a chest X-ray.
Usually, you will be admitted early on the day of your operation. Make sure that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight. On the day you go to hospital for your operation, you may have your blood pressure, pulse and temperature checked again. Most men are in hospital for between three and seven days.
Before the operation
The anaesthetist who will be looking after you during the operation will visit you and ask you questions about:
- Previous operations and anaesthetics – this is to make sure you have had no problems with anaesthetics in the past.
- Medicines – it is important that the anaesthetist knows about the medication you are taking.
- Dental problems – the anaesthetist will have to put a tube in your mouth to help you breathe during the operation. It is important to know about caps and crowns. You will need to leave any false teeth on the ward.
- Chest problems and smoking – if you smoke, you are more likely to suffer complications from anaesthetics. You should give up smoking at least a week before you go into hospital. Smoking is now forbidden in hospital.
- Allergies – you must tell the anaesthetist about any allergies that you have.
If you are overweight you may be asked to lose weight before the operation.
The surgeon will also take precautions to prevent you developing a blood clot. You may be asked to wear elastic stockings and be given injections of blood-thinning drugs.
After the operation
After the operation you will be taken to the recovery ward. Here a nurse will check your pulse and blood pressure regularly. You will usually be brought back to your ward within one hour.
You will have to wait before you have a drink because the anaesthetic may make you feel sick. You will receive food and drink gradually. However, within 24 hours you should be able to eat and drink normally. If you feel sick or have some pain, tell the nurse, who can give you something to help. Being free of pain will help you recover more quickly, so it is important to tell the nurse if you need painkillers.
You will have a bag of fluid above your bed called a drip (intravenous fluids) which runs through a needle into your arm. This will probably be removed within a few hours. You will have a catheter (plastic tube) passing through your penis into your bladder to drain urine. You may also have one or more plastic tubes in your belly that are attached to drainage bags by your bed – these can be either to drain urine from your bladder or any fluid from the site of the operation. The drain tube is usually removed on the day after surgery.