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Who's Using the Robot?

Study: Urology, gynecology and endocrine-related surgery have the highest proportion of robotic-assisted procedures.

Published: September 19, 2017

ROBOT ASSISTANCE Despite a surge in robotic-assisted surgery, tangible benefits over traditional methods are still to be seen.

A study gives robotic-assisted laparoscopy mixed reviews, finding that only a few specialties are fueling its growth and that there's not much evidence of better outcomes over traditional methods.

The 3 specialties with the highest proportion of robotic-assisted surgeries were urology (34.1%), gynecology (11.0%) and endocrinology (9.4%), according to a study from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample (HCUP-NIS). The study draws its conclusions from a 5-year window of research, spanning from 2008 to 2013. In that time, other specialties saw growth in robotic-assisted procedures, too, including colorectal surgery (which increased from 0.3% in 2008 to 8.5% in 2013), thoracic surgery (0.4% to 9.4%) and general surgery (0.7% to 5.0%).

Researcher Yen-Yi Juo, MD, and his colleagues attribute the surge in robotic-assisted procedures to cultural readiness, a modern medical environment that looks to embrace and engage with new technological advances and test their optimal usage. These conclusions are reinforced by the study's report of what kinds of patients were more likely to receive robotic-assisted operations: "younger, males, white, privately insured, more affluent and with less comorbidities."

Besides laparoscopy, other fields like orthopedic surgery are reporting more positive results with the use of robotic assistance, particularly better precision in knee-replacement operations.

Joe Madsen

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