World-class robotic-assisted prostate surgery a welcome option for Eastern Cape men

PE urologists accredited in precision keyhole radical prostatectomy with da Vinci system

Wednesday, June 20 2018

A man who fainted in a Port Elizabeth urologist’s office when he received the news that he had prostate cancer has recounted his relief at learning that there was a minimally-invasive, high-precision robotic-assisted surgical option for the removal of the cancerous gland.

“It all began when I noticed my urine flow weakening last year. I had some tests, and a biopsy was taken from my prostate gland,” explains 54-year-old Christiaan Brits of Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

When Mr Brits and his wife went for a consultation with urologist, Dr Johannes Brummer, at his Netcare Greenacres Hospital practice, he received the unwelcome news that the tests had detected localised prostate cancer. “It was a huge shock; I passed out in Dr Brummer’s office when he told us the diagnosis,” he recalls.

“Dr Brummer explained the various treatment options available to me and recommended that the diseased prostate gland be surgically removed as the cancer was localised to my prostate, and that a radical prostatectomy would limit the risk of it spreading beyond the prostate gland,” says Mr Brits.

Pic: Urologists Dr Johannes Brummer and Dr Johan Coetzee have been accredited as da Vinci robotic surgeons to perform radical prostatectomies, the surgical removal of the prostate gland to treat prostate cancer. Together the two have completed 72 such robotic-assisted procedures at Netcare Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth.;

He also informed Mr Brits that operating on the prostate poses certain risks, including possible loss of erectile function and reduced urinary control, but that a new surgical option associated with reduced risks was available.

“The doctor told me that one of the options was a new robotic-assisted surgical technique, for which he had to have special training overseas. I was very interested to hear that this world-class technology is available here in the Eastern Cape, and immediately I felt reassured,” Mr Brits says.

Robotic-assisted technology is recognised as the gold standard for the surgical treatment of localised prostate cancer in Europe and the United States.

Both Dr Brummer and fellow urologist, Dr Johan Coetzee, who also practises at the hospital, have been accredited as da Vinci robotic surgeons to perform radical prostatectomies, which is the surgical removal of the prostate gland. Together they have already completed 72 da Vinci robotic-assisted prostatectomy procedures at Netcare Greenacres Hospital since the technology was introduced at the hospital in August 2017.

“We are performing da Vinci prostatectomies routinely now. This highly advanced surgical system offers incredible high definition three-dimensional visualisation capabilities, which allows us as surgeons to see the nerves and tissues at a magnification that is 10 times greater than the human eye. The robotic arms and wristed instruments furthermore allow more freedom of movement than the human hand, which enhances surgical precision, and improves preservation of the nerves which control urinary continence as well as erectile function,” Dr Brummer explains.

“This is of considerable assistance in our efforts to spare the nerves associated with urinary continence and erectile function when performing prostatectomies. In terms of quality of life, this is an important consideration for our patients, particularly for the younger men we treat.”

Dr Coetzee adds that patients generally tend to recover more rapidly after surgeries performed with the da Vinci system compared with traditional surgery. “There is far less post-operative pain because da Vinci procedures are minimally invasive, and most patients spend only two nights in hospital after this type of surgery, versus four to five nights for open surgery,” he says.

“Patients are also mobile and able to return to work much sooner, on average. The length of time that the patient is required to use a catheter to assist them in passing urine, is much less compared to open surgery, and our patients appreciate this.”

Mr Brits says that he was pleasantly surprised that he experienced no pain, and had only slight discomfort in the days after the procedure. “There were six tiny punctures in my skin, but they soon healed. I was most impressed with Dr Brummer and his team, and the care I received at the hospital was first-rate.

“Ten days later, I had to go for scans and tests. Fortunately, these detected no signs of cancer, so there was no need for me to have further treatment. I have a follow-up appointment in August to monitor my progress since the procedure,” he says.

“I would recommend the da Vinci surgery at Netcare Greenacres Hospital 110% to any man who is faced with similar problems. I was concerned about the type of things men do worry about when confronted with the need for prostate surgery, but it has fortunately not impacted my quality of life,” Mr Brits asserts.

Dr Brummer says that it is gratifying to be able to offer this world-class minimally-invasive surgical option for suitable patients living in Port Elizabeth and surrounding communities as far afield as Knysna, George and East London along the coast, as well as the inland regions of the Eastern Cape, the southern region of the Free State, the eastern region of the Northern Cape and the north-eastern region of the Western Cape.

Christiaan Brits, 54, of Cradock in the Eastern Cape, is one of the more than 70 men who have already undergone robotic-assisted surgery at Netcare Greenacres Hospital after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“We have undertaken extensive training to bring international trends in robotic-assisted surgery to our province. With more than 4 000 men, some as young as 40, being diagnosed with prostate cancer in South Africa every year, it is extremely important that every effort is made to preserve urinary control and sexual function,” he says.

“The da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery has shown excellent results in terms of cancer control and survival rates. In most cases, there is less need for blood transfusion and reduced risk of complications, and the patient recovery experience is considerably better as it is quicker and more comfortable than traditional open surgery,” Dr Brummer concludes.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Greenacres Hospital
Contact:      Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Estene Lotriet-Voster
Telephone:   (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],or [email protected]