Robots performing surgery sounds like something out of the future, right? Well it’s something of the present, and in fact quite prevalent.
Robotic assisted surgery in gynecologic procedures has risen in the past couple of years; for example, robotic removal of ovaries rose from 3.5% in 2009 to 15% in 2012.
But in a recent study, published online in Obstetrics & Gynecology, of more than 87,000 operations, it was found that complications during robotic surgeries for the removal of ovaries was 3.4%, compared to 2.1% of conventional surgery. They have found an increase in complications in other surgical procedures involving robotic assistance, as well.
There also appeared to be a major price difference between robotic-assisted and traditional surgery. The study found that the removal of ovaries with the help of robots costs an average of $2,504 more than that of conventional surgery.
Director of gynecological oncology (cancer of the female reproductive organs) at Columbia University Medical Center Dr. Jason D. Wright stated that “there’s no proven benefit to robotic surgery.”
So if it is not necessarily better than conventional surgery and also costs significantly more, the question that comes up is: Why do doctors perform surgeries using robotic assistance? And why has it seen a rise in the last couple years?
First off, what is “robotic” surgery?
In robotic-assisted surgery–or sometimes called “computer-assisted” surgery–the surgeon uses different types of remotes to control the movement of a robotic arm. It is purposefully used in minimally invasive surgery and open surgery (organs exposed directly to air)–particularly in cardiothoracic procedures (surgery of the heart and lungs). The main objective of these devices is to allow for more precision and it reduces the amount of damage done to the tissue operated on.
But, although there are particular reasons surgeons turn to robotic-assisted surgery, it does not seem to provide much benefit for gynecological cases.
In this case, maybe our vision for a future with robots performing surgery really will have to remain a thing for the future.
da Vinci Robotic Surgery
A popular brand of robotic surgeries is the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System. Many patients have suffered complications from da Vinci robotic surgery.