Veil of Aphrodite vs. other nerve sparing techniques...
Been a while since I've been on the board, but this is a good weekend to start back, and this is a very (IMHO) important thread. Anyone who is considering Da Vinci (and there are more and more of us every day) is sooner or later going to read of this technique and peruse Dr. Menon's statistics.
I want to share what I have learned.
The Henry ford/ Menon website was the first place I really learned about Da Vinci so, of course, the "Veil of Aphrodite" became very important for me. I wanted to learn more about it. Why don't other doctors use this procedure? If it is so good, why isn't everyone doing it? Also, as I received materials from Menon's clinic I began to notice what appeared to be a gradation of levels of nerve-sparing, with veil of aphrodite at the pinnacle.
As I learned more, and talked to the local Dr with the largest number of surgeries under his belt I came to learn that there were actually quite a few doctors out there with multi-hundreds, 1000+ da vincis under their belts. I eventually learned about Vipul Patel at James Cancer center in Columbus, Ohio. His statistics and knowledge deeply impressed me. I started to plan to go to him for treatment.
But the "veil of aphrodite" technique kept nagging me in the back of my mind. Finally, out of frustration I called Dr. Patel and asked him if he knew about it and whether he used it and whether Menon's technique and results were better than his. This was uncomfortable and I felt like I might be potentially making him feel like I didn't trust him. But his response immediately put me at ease. He explained that ALL of the top surgeons know one another, have close personal relationships and a very high level of professional respect for one another. He also explained that he has used the veil of aphrodite technique in the past but has moved on to a technique he calls a "retrograde nerve-sparing" technique. He explained that he starts by sparing the nerves. It's the first thing he does, then he moves on to the other physiological features and elements of the surgery. He says he's found that the single most critical thing for a succesful nerve-sparing surgery, assuming of course that the nerves are not severed, is to not use any heat and a minimal amount of trauma on the nerves. His technique allows for this and he feels his statistics are among the very very best. He said his results will soon be published.
I do think there is a certain amount of marketing hype involved with the "veil of aphrodite" method. For one thing, take a look at the price. $30K. And here is a specialist performing six or more of these surgeries a day. Of course, the hospital and other attending doctors are paid, so he's not pocketing 30k for each surgery. But it is clear that this is a medical specialty which (deservedly) earns the best practitioners a very high income. I don't begrudge them this! But it is worth remembering when you are trying to decide where to go for treatment.