Questions Arise About Robotic Surgery's Cost, Effectiveness

In the dozen years since the Da Vinci robot has been approved for surgeries in the United States, it’s been embraced by health care providers and patients alike. Surgeons routinely use the multi-armed metal assistant to remove cancerous prostate glands and uteruses, repair heart valves and perform gastric bypass operations, among many other procedures.

Lately a key study and reports of problems have raised questions about robotic surgery’s safety and cost-effectiveness, leading to a review of the Da Vinci system by the Food and Drug Administration and causing some experts to wonder whether the benefits of undergoing robot-assisted surgery may have been overstated.

At this time, health insurers generally pay for robotic surgery just as they would any other surgical procedure, and patient out-of-pocket costs are typically no different either. That could change, some say, as more comprehensive data become available that clarifies when robotic-assisted surgery helps improve patient outcomes—and when it doesn't.

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Source: Kaiser Health News