Author Interviews, JAMA, Surgical Research, Technology, University of Michigan / 13.01.2020 Interview with: Kyle Sheetz, MD Clinical Year 4 Resident, General Surgery Michigan Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: There are concerns that robotic surgery is increasing for common surgical procedures with limited evidence and unclear clinical benefit. Prior studies describing the use of robotic surgery relied upon claims or billing data to identify robotic operations from laparoscopic or open ones. This may lead to inaccuracies as claims data may not provide specific codes for robotic operations. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Surgical Research, Technology / 03.09.2018 Interview with: A robotically assisted surgical system: WikipediaChris Childers, M.D. Division of General Surgery David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA 10833 Le Conte Ave., CHS 72-247 Los Angeles, CA 90095 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The robotic surgical approach has gained significant traction in the U.S. market despite mixed opinions regarding its clinical benefit. A few recent randomized trials have suggested there may be no clinical benefit of the robotic approach for some surgical procedures over the more traditional open or laparoscopic (“minimally-invasive”) approaches. Previous studies have also suggested the robotic approach is very expensive, but until our study, there was no benchmark for the true costs (to the hospital) of using the robotic platform. Our study analyzed financial statements from the main supplier of robotic technology. We found that the use of robotic surgery has increased exponentially over the past decade from approximately 136 thousand procedures in 2008 to 877 thousand procedures in 2017. The majority of these procedures were performed in the United States. While most people think of the robotic approach in urologic and perhaps gynecologic surgery, the fastest growing segment has been general surgery, for procedures such as colorectal resections, hernia repairs and gallbladder removals. In total, over 3 billion dollars was spent by hospitals to acquire and use robotic platforms in 2017 with 2.3 billion dollars in the United States. This equates to nearly $3,600 per procedure performed. (more…)
Author Interviews, NYU, Surgical Research / 12.12.2014

Ganesh Sivarajan, MD Department of Urology New York University Langone Medical Interview with: Ganesh Sivarajan, MD Department of Urology New York University Langone Medical Center

  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Sivarajan: The surgical robot was designed to facilitate laparoscopic surgery. The surgeon sits at a console several feet away from the patient and is linked to a multi-armed robot which translates the surgeon’s movements from the console to surgical instruments inside the patient’s insufflated abdomen. The robot is equipped with a high resolution three dimensional camera which improves visualization over traditional open surgery and allows the manipulation of instruments in directions and angles which are difficult in traditional open surgery. In light of these apparent advancements, the robot was rapidly adopted for use during radical prostatectomy. The outcomes data for men undergoing robotic versus open prostatectomy, however, have not demonstrated any clear advantage of robotic surgery, with some studies demonstrating benefit and other demonstrating harm. This fact coupled with the relatively high cost of the robot and its disposable equipment have led many to criticize robotic surgery and its rapid adoption. Partial nephrectomy is a procedure performed for renal cancer in which just the malignant tumor is excised while the remaining healthy kidney is saved. It is increasingly considered to be preferable to the previous gold standard operation – radical nephrectomy or removal of the entire kidney largely secondary to the benefits accrued from preserving renal function. Despite actual changes in the treatment guideline recommending increased use of partial nephrectomy it remains vastly underutilized nationwide likely because of the technical challenges associated with its performance. It has been suggested that the surgical robot facilitates the performance of partial nephrectomy, but this has not been definitively demonstrated in a model which controls for important variables as the effects of changing guidelines, secular trends supporting increased utilization over time and a variety of other hospital-level characteristics. We sought to determine whether acquisition of the surgical robot was independently associated with increased utilization of partial nephrectomy – a guideline-supported procedure. If true, it would suggest that the acquisition of the surgical robot may have improved the quality of care of renal cell carcinoma patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Surgical Research / 08.10.2014 Interview with: Jason D. Wright, M.D. Sol Goldman Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Chief, Division of Gynecologic Oncology Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons New York, New York 10032 Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Wright: The use of robotic assisted ovarian surgery (oophorectomy and cystectomy) has increased rapidly and compared to laparoscopic alternatives, robotically assisted surgery is associated with a small increase in complication rates and substantially greater costs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Surgical Research / 22.12.2013

Nita Ahuja, MD Departments of Surgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Interview with: Nita Ahuja, MD Departments of Surgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Ahuja: Across the nation, laparoscopic colectomy is performed about as frequently as open colectomy, despite being associated with a lower complication rate and a lower overall hospital cost. On the other hand,  an exponentially growing prevalence was found with robotic colectomy, a procedure that has so far demonstrated only equivalent outcomes with laparoscopic colectomy but a higher overall cost. (more…)