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More questions about expanded uses of robotic surgery: gallbladder and bladder cancer operations

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy, as Paul Levy writes on his Not Running A Hospital blog, is a surgery to remove a gall bladder using laparoscopic instruments through holes in the abdomen instead of cutting it open.  Lap choles, for short.

“So, what do you do if you are a robotic surgery device company that has saturated the marketplace for robot-assisted prostate surgery…?

Answer:  You try to create a demand for robot lap choles. You drool as you read:

     In 2008, 750,000 patients underwent cholecystectomy in the United States; in 90% of these patients, the operation was done laparoscopically.

This is huge compared even to the 90,000 radical prostatectomies that are undertaken each year, where you have grabbed 70,000 of the total.

Just imagine if we could get doctors and hospitals to buy our robot to do a portion of those.

Levy then links to a couple of YouTube videos that were posted by different hospitals.  One, he writes,  was of a doctor and a patient making “unsupported assertions about the relative benefits compared to the excellent safety record of traditional lap choles.”

About a year ago, we posted, “Major-market TV news glorification of “scarless” robotic surgery,” which was about the “first single-site, single-incision gallbladder removal done by a community hospital in state of California.”

The Skeptical Scalpel has written about “no proof” that robotic cholecystectomy is better than regular laparoscopic surgery.

And, regarding a different robotic surgery use,MedPage Today reports, “Robotics No Help in Cystectomy.”

“A randomized trial comparing robotic with open cystectomy ended early after an interim analysis showed the minimally invasive approach did not reduce complications, according to a study reported (at the American Urological Association meeting in San Diego this week).

(The researcher said:) “This study demonstrates that well-designed randomized, controlled trials of new surgical technologies are possible and should be strongly encouraged to better answer important clinical questions.”

In recent years, use of robotic radical cystectomy has increased as surgeons attempt to reduce complications and morbidity. Whether robotic assistance has accomplished that goal has yet to be determined.”


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Karina Alberton

May 16, 2013 at 6:13 am

Technology is amazing these days. I had an Robotic Hysterectomy
operation performed using the da Vinci robot. Worked well for me!

Karina Alberton

May 16, 2013 at 6:13 am

Technology is amazing these days. I had an Robotic Hysterectomy
operation performed using the da Vinci robot. Worked well for me!