For the last 10 years many hospitals and surgery practices have promoted to the world that they use robots in surgery. There are many surgeries in which a robot may be used including gall bladder removal (cholecystectomy), hysterectomies, kidney removal, hernia repairs, hip replacements, and on and on. What are we told about the advantages or robotic surgery? Greater precision, smaller incisions, better visualization, and shorter hospital stays…but do the outcomes support these claimed benefits?
Robot-assisted procedures accounted for 15.1% of all general surgeries in 2018, up from just 1.8% in 2012, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). However, there is little evidence that robotic surgery gets a better patient result in many types of surgery. For example, the FDA recently expressed safety concerns about the rapidly growing use of robotic approaches for certain cancer operations. These concerns stem from the limited evidence of benefit (e.g, fewer complications or better oncologic resection quality) for robotic surgery.
What is clear is that hospitals and other providers charge more for robotic surgery than non-robotic and more traditional surgery.
My Take: Call me a skeptic but it is all about the money!