Study: Pricey Surgery Robots Lack Clear Benefits

As robots march into operating rooms across the nation, some doctors are getting worried that patients might not be better off with the costly machines.

In the latest study to cast doubt on the technology, researchers found similar complication rates among women treated for endometrial cancer whether or not surgeons got help from a robot.

Yet robotic surgery costs about $1,300 more than the low-tech approach, called laparoscopy, in addition to the upfront cost to the hospital of the machine itself.

"Robotic surgery is clearly associated with higher costs, without any clear advantages," Dr. Jason Wright, a gynecologic surgeon at Columbia University in New York, told Reuters Health.

In a report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, he and his colleagues say millions of dollars could be saved by switching from robotic surgery to traditional laparoscopy, adding that official regulation might be needed.

"Surgeons need to keep in mind all of the modalities that are available to them," said Wright. "The newer, more technologically advanced ones aren't always better."

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Sources: OBR Daily; Reuters