I thought I had seen the worst of robotic surgery research but the January 2012 issue of Surgery News, billed as “The Official Newspaper of the American College of Surgeons,” contains an article about a paper that surpasses all the rest. It can be found on page 17 here.
The paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists by a group from the Florida Hospital in Orlando.
The headline, “Robotic Hysterectomy Cuts Blood Loss in Obese,” is certainly catchy. Let’s look deeper. The study was a retrospective comparison of 111 patients who had robotic hysterectomy to 152 who had standard laparoscopic hysterectomy. All women had BMIs greater than 30. The robotic group had an average estimated blood loss of 85 cc versus 210 cc in the laparoscopic group. Sounds good, right? However, the difference in blood loss of only 125 cc [about 1/4 of a unit of blood] is hardly clinically significant. This was confirmed by the study’s own data. Average postop hemoglobin levels were 13.1 g/dL and 12.5 g/dL respectively.