‘Costly’ Robotic surgeries ‘much safer than standard procedures’

Karachi, Mar 5: Patients who have undergone robot-assisted operations on their kidneys or prostate have shorter hospital stays and a lower risk of having a blood transfusion or dying but the expense is considerably higher, a new study has revealed.

The analysis compared increasingly common robotic surgery with two other techniques for the same surgery and found that direct costs can be up to several thousand dollars higher for the robotic type, the News International reported.

Regarded as less invasive and more efficient, robotic surgeries essentially use a laparoscopic or “key hold surgery” approach, in which tools and a tiny video camera are inserted into the body through one or two small incisions.

Robotic surgery substitutes a surgeon’s hands with ultra-precise tools at the ends of mechanical arms, all operated by the surgeon from a console.

“I think the take home message is that robotic (surgery), looking at our study, had certain beneficial outcomes compared to open and laparoscopic procedures,” said study leader Jim Huat Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Hu and his team evaluated surgery data from a national government database to see if the costlier robotic surgeries were cost effective with extra benefits over older techniques.

In the last three months of 2008, the most recent data available that allowed a comparison among robotic, open and laparoscopic surgeries, more than half of all prostate removals involved robot-assisted surgery.

Around three percent of prostate patients had standard laparoscopic surgery and 44 percent underwent open surgery.

Open and laparoscopic surgeries were still more prevalent than robotic surgeries for kidney repairs and removals.

Among patients who had their prostate removed, none died from laparoscopic or robotic surgery, while two out of every 1,000 died after the open procedure.

About five percent of the men who had open surgery required a blood transfusion, compared to less than two percent of men who had robot-assisted surgery.

The open-surgery group also stayed in the hospital nearly one day longer than the robotic group.

The results were alike for people who had their kidneys removed.

The trade-off was the price, with robotic prostate removal costing about 10,000 dollars on average, roughly 700 dollars more than laparoscopic surgery and 1,100 dollars more than open surgery.

For kidney removal, robotic surgery cost 13,900 dollars, which was 2,700 dollars more than laparoscopic and 1,300 dollars more than open surgery.

The study has been published in the Journal of Urology. (ANI)