February 24, 2018 |
Surgical Robot Offers Similar Outcomes at Higher Cost
December 18, 2013  | 

Baltimore, MD - In a study of national data on colon surgery, Johns Hopkins researchers found that while patients who undergo either minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery or the high-tech robotic approach have similar outcomes, robotic surgery is significantly more expensive.

The findings provide a counterpoint to the aggressive advertising used by some hospitals to tout benefits of the pricey new gadget, even before research has been done to learn whether robotic surgery is actually better for patients.

“The true test of something new in medicine should be: Is it better? Is it safer? Does it save money? If not, then we probably shouldn’t be using it,” says Nita Ahuja, M.D., an associate professor of surgery and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study published online on Dec. 18 in JAMA Surgery. “What we have found is that the robot is no better than laparoscopy and it costs more. It has no benefit.”

Using the U.S. Nationwide Inpatient Sample database, Ahuja and her team analyzed data from 244,129 colectomies between October 2008 and December 2010 performed at hospitals across the country. They found similar complication rates, mortality rates and length of hospital stays between laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery, but found that a robotic surgery cost an average of nearly $3,000 more.

Robotic surgery is costlier because there are pricey disposable parts that need to be purchased for each surgery. Continue>

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