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Surgeon does outpatient robotic prostate surgery
New procedures shorten hospital time, aid in recovery
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Brent A. Sharpe, a physician with Northeast Georgia Urological Associates, explains how the fourth generation of the Da Vinci robot is used during surgery Thursday from an operating room at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton. Sharpe has performed than 550 standard robotic procedures. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Victor Bedzyk, a retired White County resident, looked as he said he felt — “pretty well.”

He was the subject for the state’s first outpatient robotic prostatectomy Aug. 30. His prostate was removed because of cancer.

Brent Sharpe, who is with Northeast Georgia Urological Associates, performed the surgery at Northeast Georgia Medical Center - Braselton.

Bedzyk said Monday evening he still is recovering from the surgery. He has perhaps a couple of months of physical therapy in front of him, he said, and he has a “couple of sore spots” remaining.

Sharpe explained the surgery included six small incisions. He said a fourth generation of a Da Vinci robot was used for the surgery.

The latest robot, he said, is “kind of a game changer” because its arms can be manipulated in multi-quadrants on the body.

He said both patients and society benefit from the outpatient surgery, in which the patient goes home the same day. Prostate surgery has required one- or two-day hospital stays, Sharpe said.

But Bedzyk went home the same day.

“Patients don’t like to come to the hospital anyway,” Sharpe said. The outpatient surgery “inconveniences them less.”

He explained the cost is less for the patient and the hospital. He said recovery also should be easier and more comfortable. In addition, patients do not have the complications associated with hospital stays.

Bedzyk said he was sore for a couple of weeks and had pain for several days. Most of that has cleared up, he said. One restriction is that he not lift more than 20 pounds.

He explained Sharpe had been “monitoring (his prostate) pretty closely for a couple of years.” He had had the cancer for some time, and when test results indicated his PSA score was increasing, two biopsies were done.

Bedzyk said that included a “genetic analysis” was done on the biopsy, and the decision to operate was made.

Sharpe also used “surgigraft,” a specialized biological graft for the first time in the surgery. He said it is made from amniotic membrane and helps with healing. It reduces scar formation and inflammation, he said.

Surgigraft “has been proven to accelerate the return of continence and potency after robotic prostatectomy,” Sharpe said.

“We hope this new biological graft will enhance our extensive rehabilitation program for men who are undergoing” the surgery, he said.

Bedzyk, a retired electrical engineer, is involved with prison ministries in White, Habersham and Gwinnett counties.

He moved to Georgia from New York and said he participated in prison ministries there also. He retired in 2013 after 42 years in the engineering field.

Sharpe began offering outpatient robotic surgery to women more than a year ago. He said he has done more than 550 standard robotic procedures.

He said nearly all of his surgeries for the past several years have been robotic operations.

Sharpe is from Statesville, N.C., and said Gainesville was closer to his home and is much like that area. He had worked in northern Alabama.

He earned his medical degree from Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. He did a residency in urology at Emory University, completing that in 2005.

Sharpe is board certified in urology.

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