Study Raises Questions About Robotic Surgery For Hysterectomy

Tue, 02/26/2013 - 9:28am
Roni Caryn Rabin

Ever since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005, robotic surgery for hysterectomy has been heavily advertised. Surgeons promise that using the da Vinci robotic device will bring better results and an easier recovery, and many hospitals claim that patients will experience less pain and fewer complications, getting back on their feet faster.

The company that makes da Vinci robotic surgery equipment promoted it last May at free health workshops organized by the federal Office on Womens’ Health. On Sunday, the Liberty Science Museum in Jersey City will host its first “Let’s Operate Day,” offering guests “hands-on” practice peering into video monitors and using da Vinci’s robot arms to pick up and manipulate small objects.

The cost of the new technology is rarely mentioned. But last week, a new study that evaluated outcomes in more than a quarter of a million American women raised questions about the manufacturer’s claims. The paper, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, compared outcomes in 264,758 women who had either laparoscopic or robotically assisted hysterectomy at 441 hospitals between 2007 and 2010. Both methods are minimally invasive and involve smaller incisions than open abdominal surgery.

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