These are actual headlines from newspapers across the US on the DaVinci robotic surgical system:
Robot doctor – surgery of tomorrow
Da Vinci puts magical touch on the prostate
Cancer survivors meet lifesaving surgical robot
Robotic surgeon’s hands never tremble
Da Vinci is code for faster recovery
DA VINCI ROBOT IS SURGERY WORK OF ART
Hospital hopes robot surgery will lure patients
The last one is closest to the truth.
It’s hard to understand how so many stories could be so fawning, drooling over new technology, without discussing evidence of harms and benefits, which is limited.
As we said in our review of the latest story:
“(The story framed) the procedure like playing video games – “It’s like shooting at space ships.” Even though the surgeon interviewed said this, it would have been interesting to get a primary care doc’s reaction to this comment. In fact, any independent source would have been appreciated.
Legitimate questions can and should be raised about any new medical technology. This story raised few, but let true-believer-surgeons promote their pet technology. One said he “loves his robot.”
Even with prostate cancer, for which robotic systems have been used most often, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says there isn’t enough research yet to tell us how well robotic surgery works compared with other treatments.”