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Da Vinci Robot Surgical Risks Detailed

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, April 17, 2012

Da Vinci surgical robots have become ubiquitous in U.S. hospitals, with about 1,500 now operating just in the United States.  But their rapid adoption has raised questions about whether they are really superior to other surgical methods such as laparotomy or an open surgery.

They are expensive, costing an estimated $3.5 million over a five-year period. And their comparative effectiveness over other surgical procedures has not been well documented.

In a January report, the ECRI Institute noted that in the midst of the growth of these devices, "questions remain about clinician learning curves, what the ideal training program is, how many procedures are needed to maintain proficiency and what criteria hospitals should use to credential surgeons using these systems."

Proponents of robotic surgery state that the benefits this technology offers, including improved visualization, precision, and dexterity for the surgeon, make these systems well worth the added cost incurred to implement and maintain them," the ECRI report said.

"While this may be true, the real unanswered questions are how much value they add and, more importantly, how and when will they definitively improve patient care and long-term outcomes?"


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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2 comments on "Da Vinci Robot Surgical Risks Detailed"


Leanne White (12/19/2012 at 9:59 PM)
When something went wrong with my da Vinci surgery, IT had every thing to do with the Doctor's skill. Of course emergency surgery and 6 other procedures later, since the Doctor, quote and I quote, "didn't kill me, or leave me with an injury that couldn't be fixed" I had no grounds to sue him or at least have him write off the balance not paid by my insurance. Who cares that I missed out on more than a year of my life getting someone else to fix what he did.

bev M.D. (4/19/2012 at 6:25 PM)
"You don't leave big scars and adhesions, you have less post-operative pain, recovery times are shorter, and infection rates almost non-existent." I hope the study provided evidence to support this rather all-encompassing statement of superiority. Otherwise it's just more advertising. Was there such evidence? No doubt the article is available by subscription only......