Pain Level after Robotic Surgery

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 259
   Posted 1/12/2011 6:59 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Guys,
Surgery is scheduled for March and I am so full of anxiety I could pop.  For those of you who had robotic surgery on a scale of 1-10 (10 the most pain) how would you rate post op pain?  I'm thinking this thing is going to hurt like crap, especially expelling the gas associated with blowing up your belly.  I invision looking like that guy on the James Bond movie who had a CO2 cartridge stuck in his mouth. 
I don't go by one minute of one day without thinking about cancer and the forth coming operation.  I have a strong desire to keeping sucking in air after cancer surgery and wish it was all over with.   I hate to admit but have a very low tolerence for pain. 
2009 PSA 2.2
2010 PSA 3.2
Biopsy 24 cores 3 positive
Gleason 3 plus 3
Cancer believed to be contained in organ
Robotic Surgery to be scheduled in March 2011

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 147
   Posted 1/12/2011 7:29 AM (GMT -6)   
I had my davinci in May 2009 and whilst naturally worried about the cancer and forthcoming op I admit I felt no pain at any point before, during, or after the event. Uncomfortable with the catheter but thats to be expected, and only lasted 8 days.
I had uti after the catheter was withdrawn but cleared with antibiotics, and I had no negative effects from the gas which was used to inflate the stomach.
I know pain is a personal thing, but in my case it did not enter into the equation (0-1 on the scale ) and all went quite smoothly.
I am sure you will cope well, good luck.
All the best from England.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 1/12/2011 7:36 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Viperguy - I had DaVinci on December 15, 2009, and the pain, afterwards, was minimal - my shoulders hurt the most from being upside down, and the gas - I was sent home with 60 vicodin, and used only two, then just aspirin. The catheter was much more of a nuisance than the pain I experienced, but I was very tired and slept a lot the first few days home as well. I found the anxiety to be much more stressful than the post op recovery. Best of luck to you.
Diagnosed 9/4/09, age 59
PSA 3.5, up from 1.8 year before
Two biopsies showed 8/20 positive cores, Gleason 3+3, up to 40% involvement, T2a
RRP on 12/15/09, home 12/16
Biopsy - Gleason 6, margins clear all around, no EPE, no perineural invasion, no SV involvement
Catheter out on 12/29/10
Continent in six weeks, ED still present
PSAs nondetectable (six weeks, six months, 12 months)

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 293
   Posted 1/12/2011 8:18 AM (GMT -6)   
Viperguy, I had my visit with the robot three years ago, and while I worried before the operation about the pain, it was not that bad at all for me. My Urologist was correct when he said I would wake up and feel like I had done a thousand sit ups, it's sore, but not a throbing or sharp pain. I went home and used excedrin for the soreness and was fine. I also was lucky and never had any problem or pain with the gas. I also have a low threshold for pain, but it really was not worth all the worry! Good luck, and keep us posted on your successful procedure!
Beachbum turn

PSA 10 June 2007
Biopsy July 2, 15 of 16 samples positive
prostate weighed 40 grams
Di Vinci 10/09/07, four hours on table, 3 in recovery
Total time in Hospital: 29 hours, 3+4=7
Record for Dr. Lance, 65% of prostate had cancer, but NO spread, clean margins,Clean nodes,
First PSA at 5 weeks, UNDETECTABLE!
Catheter out at seven days, dry from hour one!
Second PSA 19 weeks post op, UNDETECTABLE 2/11/2008
Third PSA 5/12/08, six months post op, UNDETECTABLE
Fourth PSA 8/21/08, nine months post op, UNDETECTABLE
One Year visit in December 2008, UNDETECTABLE, now go visit every six months!
5/22/09 10 m0nth visit, still UNDETECTABLE
11/23/09 two year PSA still UNDETECTABLE
05/24/10 two and a half year checkup, once again UNDETECTABLE
The Lord has truly Blessed me.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 2680
   Posted 1/12/2011 8:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey, Viper, the only pain I had after my 8/20/10 DaVinci was from gas and bloating, until my bowels started working again.  There really wasn't any pain at the surgery site.
I didn't use the Dilaudid I had at my beck and call, nor did I use the Vicodins I brought home.
I think you can relax and rid yourself of the pain anxiety.  I never had the shoulder pain, and I don't think that's felt by everybody.  If you're having gas and bloating, be sure to have your doctor order simethicone or something of that sort, and be sure the nursing staff gives it to you as needed.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 416
   Posted 1/12/2011 8:29 AM (GMT -6)   

If your surgery is anywhere near "typical".. you are causing yourself more stress than you need to. They put you out, you wake up. You are already medicated when you are told it's over, and then provide you more as needed.

I anticipated the "panic" moment, but it never happened. I think you will find that all the medical people along this journey will reassure you. No, not painless.. but the medication takes care of most pain from the surgery.. then it's pains like the catheter and the like, as others noted.

My friend, I can only tell you from my own perspective, but IT DOES GET BETTER! Right now you are thinking the worst about the surgery, AND about the cancer itself.

Soon, you'l be able to worry just aboput the root of the problem, your pca. And hopefully, this frightening surgery will help you live a long and stress reduced life.

Ultimately, there is a mental, emotional tole, no doubt. And you are experiencing some of that right now, even before you have physical symtoms. I bet you'll be stronger when this is done. And i'm praying for you.

Steve n Dallas
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 4849
   Posted 1/12/2011 8:36 AM (GMT -6)   
I didn't have gas and bloating issues....
My adominal hernia surgery was more painfull afterwards then the Prostate removal.  AND I lived through both one year apart.
And for comparrison - I think a root canal is worse then a biopsy of the prostate.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 259
   Posted 1/12/2011 8:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the remarks regarding pain.  I hope to have a similiar experience.  I have had one open surgery for an appendix removal back in the mid 60's.  I was in the 8th grade and still remember those gas pains being almost unbareable. 
From some of the comments it does not sound much worse than a having a tooth pulled. 
2009 PSA 2.2
2010 PSA 3.2
Biopsy 24 cores 3 positive
Gleason 3 plus 3
Cancer believed to be contained in organ
Robotic Surgery to be scheduled in March 2011

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 254
   Posted 1/12/2011 9:02 AM (GMT -6)   
I had my date with the robot one year ago tomorrow - (hey its my anniversary - I wonder is she remembers)
It was my first surgery of any kind and my first time being knocked out - I was full of anxiety to the point where I couldnt sleep.  Everyone told me the operation was no big deal (just like we are telling you) but I thought thats them not me. 
When I posted about my anxiety on this forum about ten days before surgery, people here suggested that I ask for some kind of anxiety meds to take the edge off.  I called my surgeon and the PA prescribed something (xanax ??) that I took immediately that evening.  I woke up the next morning having slept well and the anxiety gone.
The operation itself was really a piece of cake.  I remember being wheeled into the operating room, sliding over to the operating table , being told to breathe into a mask and then waking up very refreshed, looking around groggily wondering if they had started the operation , and then reaching down and finding the catheter in place and realizing that the operation was over.
I'm sure I was very medicated the first day but I really felt nothing.  Other than being a little weak and sluggish I felt okay  when I left the hospital 20 hours after the surgery was completed.
I was given pain pills for home and took them the first couple days just to be sure that I stayed ahead of the pain as opposed to actually feeling much pain.  I did have a couple bouts of extreme gas pain but found that walking was helpful in relieving that.
The catheter is  an annoyance than painful.  Got to keep it properly secured , empty the day bag often, and dont forget to close the bottom drain on the day bag after you drain it.  The night bag is bigger and should allow you to sleep all night without changing it.  It seemed that once I got the hang of it all , it was time to say goodbye to it.
Once the catheter was removed, it was time to deal with the reality of incontinence and ED.  In my case, they were bad at first (but not nearly as bad as I expected) and greatly improved in a relatively short period of time.  I was nearly dry within three months and except for occassional drips or when doing sit up, I am dry.  ED is not much of an issue - things arent like they were but not nearly as bad I expected at this point. 
As others will tell you, being comfortable with your decision and surgeon is very important.  Hopefully, you've researched your options in terms of treatment and surgeon and picked the treatment that you feel works best for you and an experienced surgeon that you are comfortable with.
This is a great forum with caring people who are here to help you.  Please dont hesitate to ask questions

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 83
   Posted 1/12/2011 12:09 PM (GMT -6)   
My brother asked me that same question, I told him that as far as pain and discomfort that the biopsy was alot worst than the surgery, just stay alway from the pain pills [consitpation] when you get home.
                                                                                                 Good Luck  Tim
58 yrs.
PSA 6.94 12/10
Bio. 8 of 12 cores pos. 2/1
Gleason 3+4=7
Da Vinci 4/14
Tumor volume 9%
Extraprostatic extension- within margins
Margins clear
T2c NO Mx
PSA. 6wks. surgery .01
PSA. 4 1/2 months .01

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 264
   Posted 1/12/2011 1:42 PM (GMT -6)   

Good luck on your upcoming surgery. The stats you posted in your signature indicate an excellent chance for a great outcome!

I hope you can take some comfort in the fact that most of us reported very little pain post op. I know it is tough to be where you are with the uncertainty, but once you wake up from the surgery, the hardest part of your journey is most likely over.

I would say my pain overall would have been a 1.5 out of 10. Pretty much no pain except the first couple of days when I would move from one position to another (getting out of bed, or sitting on the toilet, etc). Once I was in what ever position I was getting to (standing, sitting, etc.) I was pretty much pain free.

Here are some of my stats:
Father diagnosed with PC at age 72 - wasn't contained to prostate when found in 1992.
My PSA rose from 3.2 to 5.1 over the course of 1.5 years with Free PSA at 25% for the last two tests.
DRE showed no evidence of tumor but Uro thought my prostate was a little large for someone my age
PCa diagnosed 4/6/10 after biopsy on 4/1/10
1 out of 12 biopsy samples was positive with 5% of biopsy sample cancerous
Gleason 3+4
Da Vinci surgery on 6/1/10
Pathology report shows cancer confined to prostate and all other tissue clean
PSA tested on 7/15/10: Zero Club membership card issued (trial membership with 90 day renewal)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 3892
   Posted 1/12/2011 1:59 PM (GMT -6)   
I had robotic on Sept 3 of last year..No pain..Zero..Not an issue..No gas or bloating afterward either. The only immediate after-effect of the surgery was caused by the anesthesiologist. You be under for 4 hours, a long time..The breathing tube they place in your throat and the gas that is being pumped into you can cause more problems than the surgery..I talked like Donald Duck for a month afterward until my vocal cords finally recovered..Post-surgery, they will give you a little breath volume machine to exercise your lungs and restore your lung capacity which is diminished by the anesthesia gas.. So when you meet your anesthesiologist (in pre-op) ask him to be careful with your vocal cords when he inserts the breathing tube...

It's a walk in the park, really, so worry about something else...
Age 68.
PSA at age 55: 3.5, DRE normal. Advice, "Keep an eye on it".
age 58: 4.5
" 61: 5.2
" 64: 7.5, DRE "Abnormal"
" 65: 8.5, " normal", biopsy, 12 core, negative...
" 66 9.0 "normal", 2ed biopsy, negative, BPH, Proscar
" 67 4.5 DRE "normal"
" 68 7.0 third biopsy positive, 4 out of 12, G-6,7, 9
RRP Sept 3 2010, pos margin, one pos vesicle nodes neg. Post Op PSA 0.9 SRT, HT NOW

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 990
   Posted 1/12/2011 3:28 PM (GMT -6)   
You are getting the truth -- annoyance is a better term than pain. I did pain meds for the first day home and to sleep the first night. After that I didn't need them. Yes, they can cause constipation, but stress is also not good for your body -- take the pills if you need them, be sure your doc prescribes laxatives.

Finding a place to sit without discomfort can be a challenge, remember the possibility of a donut pillow. If I had to give a number, I would say the pain never got to 3.

In the mean time try a month of exercise (good for mind and body) and other distractions as well

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 7270
   Posted 1/12/2011 4:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Let me answer you this way: I took a total of 4 regular tylenols for pain.
(I recall coughing hurt a LOT but that was resolved in a week -- fortunately I didn't have to cough much at all).

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 1/12/2011 4:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Had robotic surgery 3 years ago. I was surprised at how very little pain I had except for gas pains that first night . I had my wife bring in Gas X pills for me because the nurses wouldn't give it to me .I wish I had thought about that before I went in. Also I think laying on my left side was a help in alleviating the gas pains. I didn't need pain pills from the outset.. The catheter was my problem and most guys I talk to had little problems. Mine had to stay in for two weeks and it was the longest two weeks of my life. Spasms were unbelievable.

Worried Guy
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 3742
   Posted 1/12/2011 5:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Here's a good data point for you regarding the pain. I was prescribed Hydrocodone for the sling surgery I had this Monday. All this week I have been taking the Hydrocodone left over from my DaVinci surgery July 2009.
What does that tell you?

I hated the catheter and bought extra tape because I had visions of getting it pulled out somehow. Unfortunately, as if for old time's sake, I am typing this with Cathy the Catheter hanging onto me like a thirsty leech.


Post Edited (Worried Guy) : 1/18/2011 2:42:41 AM (GMT-7)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 1804
   Posted 1/12/2011 6:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Viper, believe me when I say that my husband is a self-professed baby when it comes to pain. He wasn't scared of the cancer or the surgery...he was scared of the pain after surgery especially after the OR nurse told him he'd have pain from the air used to inflate his abdominal area. Guess what...nothing, nada. The anesthesiologist had put in a morphine line prior to surgery. Since John didn't use it at all for the first 12 hours after surgery, they removed it. When he came home, the surgeon gave us a script for a narcotic pain killer, which I had filled just in case. Again, never needed it. For the first couple of nights at home, I gave him Tylenol PM more to help him sleep through the night...worked like a charm (for both of us!).

Like you, my husband had robotic surgery and his 3 year anniversary is coming up in mid March. I think you will find that the anticipation of the surgery and its after effects might be worse than the reality.

Good luck on March 1.

Jerry L.
Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 3072
   Posted 1/12/2011 7:05 PM (GMT -6) will be fine...
Nov. 2009 Dx at Age 44
Dec. 2009 DaVinci Robotic Surgery
Jan. 2010 T3b, Gleason 9
Feb. 2010 Adjuvant Radiation

PSA History:
Nov. 2009 4.30
Feb. 2010 <.05
May 2010 <.05
Aug. 2010 <.05
Nov. 2010 <.05

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 42
   Posted 1/16/2011 11:53 PM (GMT -6)   
RALP Surgery was a piece of cake...about 3 weeks ago now. Most problem I had was coping with the catheter for 15 days. I had some bladder spasms but worked those out with medication. Don't let them eject you out of the hospital too early...I spent about 3 nights and stayed comfortable with inline meds.

Age: 54
Routine Physical on 10-20-2010 DRE Normal
PSA 4.3, up from 0.6 5 years prior
Followup with Urologist on 11/10/2010 after elevated PSA; DRE noted slight bump
November 30th, 2010 had prostate biopsy.
December 9th, 2010, Biopsy results 3 of 12 cores positive.
LLB: Gleason's 4+3=7, 11 MM Tumor Length/15MM Core Length (73%)
LLM: Gleason's 4=4=8, 12 MM Tumor Length/15MM Core Length (75%)
LM: 0.1 MM Tumor Length (1%)0.1 MM Tumor Length
RALP Surgery 12/27/2010 Released: 12/30/2010
Thunderbird Banner Hospital, Glendale, AZ
Post-op Gleason's: 4+5
Margins: Positive
Lymphatic/Vascular Invasion: Not involved
Catheter: Removed 15-days after surgery
Post-OP Followup on 1/11/2011; Catheter/Staples removed

English Alf
Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 2218
   Posted 1/17/2011 2:24 AM (GMT -6)   
I do not think that pain was an issue, yes there was some, but other things (such as my biopsy plus dental work etc) have hurt a lot more.

If it hurts then tell a doc or nurse and get some medication, it's what pain medication is for in such a situation!

During the 24 hours I was in hospital after surgery they gave me two strong pain meds and 6 paracetamol (=tylenol) spread over the day (plus tablets to protect my guts from the effect of the strong pain meds) Moving in bed in hospital was not easy pain-wise till I worked out how to use the controls to raise and lower the mattress.

Once I was home I just took paracetamol.

Thus on basis of how much medication I was taking the pain was not much of a problem - I was taking 4 paracetamol by the time the catheter came out after a week. And reduced it to 2 then nothing over the next month or so.

Sneezing and coughing caused a sharp pain in the belly for a few seconds which could be helped by holding a cushion against it.

Walking helps, but during the first few steps it may feel like it is making things worse! Pain from the gas (both in bowel and from CO2) was not an issue indigestion gives me worse belly ache and bumping into something makes my shoulder/chest ache more than the CO2 bubbles did.

The thing that made things hurt the most was sitting down on the WC. (Getting up was much easier) I just had to learn a technique that made it hurt less so I held the wall.

I would not let the idea of pain related to thins worry you.

Born Jun ‘60
Apr 09 PSA 8.6
DRE neg
Biop 2 of 12 pos
Gleason 3+3
29 Jul 09 DaVinci AVL-NKI Amsterdam
6 Aug 09 Cath out
PostOp Gleason 3+4 Bladder neck & Left SVI -T3b
No perin’l No vasc invasion Clear margins
Dry at night
21 Sep 09 No pads daytime
17 Nov 09 PSA 0.1
17 Mar 10 PSA 0.4 sent to RT
13 Apr CT
66Gy 28 Apr to 11 Jun 10
Tired + weird BMs
14 Sep 10 PSA <0.1
12 Jan 11 PSA <0.1
Erection OK

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 654
   Posted 1/17/2011 7:33 AM (GMT -6)   
Ditto for me on the pain. now it will hurt getting out of chairs or other sudden movements, never used a pain pill and like worried guy I have been on a constant diet of them since last tuesday, my implant day, AUS/IPP. These hurt far more. but to those considering implants, its very manageable. aboutthe gas, I was swollen up like a toad. It just went away over the first week without any pain or notice. So, Don't worry about the pain. Oh, an it was scary and uncomfortable when they rousted me out of bed the next morning but that went away after walking a little.
Good luck on you surgery, wear some strechy gym pants with zipper calfs, preferably.
06-08 1st biopsy neg psa 4
10-09 psa 5.5 2nd biopsy 1/12 pos. 10%, G(4+3) age 65
12-15-09 RRP Tulane NOLA Dr Lee
Path, 1%, clr marg, no EPE, no SVI, nodes cl, G(4+3)
100% incontinent @ 12 months
ED, pre-op severe, post op total
10/10 Dr Boone, Methodist recomended AUS
AUS/ IPP performed 1/11/11 Methodist Houston
post op psa's 0.04,<0.1,<0.1,<0.01@12 mo.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 464
   Posted 1/17/2011 7:55 AM (GMT -6)   

I had my surgery in 9/2007 and I rate my pain as 8 for the first three days. My pain was so bad around the incision near my belly button that I could not get out of bed for the first three days I got home.  Then it slowly faded and by weeks end it was non existant.

The gas pain in my shoulder was annoying but not much more than that.

The real pain came when they removed the catheter. It was an 11, but it only lasted a split second. I think it was because the nurse didn't wait completely till the baloon was deflated before she pulled it out.


Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 739
   Posted 1/17/2011 8:02 AM (GMT -6)   
I had robotic 15 months ago. Pain was maybe a 2 for the first couple of days then 0 after that when I was still. It rose to a 3 or 4 if I rolled onto my right side where the largest incision was, so I didn't do that. After about 2 weeks pain was minimal though it still hurt to roll on my right side for about a month. In comparison with the nuisance of the catheter, pain is a non-issue.
Age: 66
Pre-surgery PSA: 7 tests over 2 years bounced around from 2.6 to 5.6
Biopsy 8 of 12 positive, Gleason 3+4, T2a
DaVinci August 2009, pathology Gleason 4+3, neg margins, T2c
Post-surgery PSA one year of zeros.
Continent right away.
Viagra and other pills only gave me headache
Trimix working great!

New Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/17/2011 9:36 PM (GMT -6)   
I must be the rare case after reading all of the previous posters claiming little to no pain. I had heart surgery over 10 yrs ago and would do it again over having Davinci again. The gas pain was an issue with me but the sooner you get up and move around the better. Walk all you can to get things moving again. I did have complications and ended up 12 days in the hospital. Pain meds were required most of the time. I also had a second surgery for internal bleeding.

None the less, keep working the gas out of the system, and be sure to take the pain meds as needed but keep in mind that there is a consequence to the pain meds with constipation and you need to get the system flowing again.

Best of luck!

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 121
   Posted 1/17/2011 10:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Viper - Ditto on the above. The catheter was annoying, but the pain was minimal. Walking is very helpful toward healing and getting stuff functional.
Age 61, Diagnosed July 2010
PSA 04/09 - 2.5; 05/10 - 3.7; 07/10 - 4.7
DRE and Ultrasound - Negative
Size at biopsy - 32 grams
T1C, 3+3=6, 1 core of 12 60% positive
da Vinci nerve sparing RP 10/29/10
Post op biopsy indicated bilateral Gleason 6 tumors
Continent 90% and hopeful
Minor ED - 85% naturally, 95% with Cialis
6 week PSA - "undetectable"
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