Robotic surgery: good studies of effectiveness “never been done…not going to magically appear now”

My former health journalism grad student, Hiran Ratnayake of the Wilmington (DE) News Journal, reports “Robotic surgery gains ground in Delaware hospitals; Not all convinced new technique is best option.”


“The robot is the classic example of where good quality studies of their effectiveness compared to other available interventions have never been done,” said Dr. Sean R. Tunis, an internist and founder of the Center for Medical Technology Policy, a Baltimore headquartered think tank that evaluates the benefits and costs of medical technologies.

“It’s one of those technologies where the enthusiasm has not been matched by the comparative studies,” Tunis said. “And they’re not going to magically appear now.”

Claims by some urologists that da Vinci leads to fewer cases of incontinence and impotence have “not been shown whatsoever” in medical literature.”

One criticism: The website produced a video to accompany the piece, but the video is 100% cheerleading for the technology with none of the caveats that appear in the text story.

Contrast Ratnayake’s appropriate healthy skepticism with that of the gee-whiz breathlessness of this Washington DC local station story on another emerging technology.

• Discusses only benefits.

• Nothing about harms.

• Nothing about data, evidence of effectivness.

• Nothing about costs.


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July 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Received this link from a daily search from Google… Your comments about Cyberknife and NanoKnife do not make clear that they are two entirely different procedures. Suggest anyone with interest in either do searches on their own to make a knowledgeable decision if either treatment makes sense to them.