Ads & news (often resembling ads) fuel growing use of robotic prostatectomy

An analysis, “Consumerism and its impact on robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy,” in the journal BJUI (formerly the British Journal of Urology) concluded that media coverage and marketing of robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy on the Internet is more widespread compared to laparoscopic and open radical methods of prostate removal. And that:

“Disturbingly, the quality of websites using any technique for prostatectomy was of poor quality when using principles of honest information presenting and such findings need to be discussed with respect to obtaining informed consent from patients.”

Journalists have clearly fallen in love with the robot. The authors report:

“In the year 2000, there were only 13 news hits for the term ‘robotic prostatectomy’ in Google News, whereas this increased to 173 in 2009.”

The explosion in use of the robot comes, the authors write:

“…despite a great deal of controversy regarding its outcome and cost effectiveness compared to traditional forms of treatment…In 2001,~250 procedures were performed in the USA, whereas this number has increased
substantially to ~50 000 in 2007.”

This analysis came from researchers in Saudi Arabia and Australia.

It follows closely the paper published in a recent Journal for Healthcare Quality that found that hospital websites hype their robotic surgery systems, ignore risks, and are often influenced by the manufacturer in their online messages.

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Michael Kirsch, MD

June 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Yeah, robotic prostatectomy sounds cool, but the important question is if the surgery is actually needed.

Joshua Schneck

June 8, 2011 at 9:19 am

Try finding balanced information on active surveillance, a credible alternative for men who meet very specific criteria for low risk, early stage prostate cancer.