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Robotic surgery grows, but so do questions


5 Star



Robotic surgery grows, but so do questions

Our Review Summary

It’s a rare story that counters all of the claims made for robotic surgery.  This story scores so well because, one by one, it addresses our criteria in a way we expect stories about new technologies to analyze claims.

This was a story that had consumers in mind – and the take-home should be clear to any reader as a result.


Why This Matters

Robotic surgery has increasingly gained acceptance recently despite the fact that the true benefits of the device may be minimal. Given the expense of the device and the per case costs of the disposables, a story that looks hard at the existing evidence is more than welcome.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


Good analysis of cost impact of use of robotics – for patients and health care institutions.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story raises many questions about claims of benefits from robotic surgery.  Examples:

  • A urologist saying “The jury is completely out. There is no consensus.”
  • Another surgeon saying “There’s never been a study showing clinical superiority. For the patient, there’s clearly no difference.”

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story didn’t quantify harms – something it could have attempted to do – but we’ll give it a satisfactory score nonetheless because it raised an issue many stories don’t – the loss of sensory feedback upon which surgeons rely.

It also cited one study showing that people who had an adrenal gland removed by robot were more likely to have complications.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story allowed the manufacturer to have its say and then countered each claim with a Johns Hopkins surgeon’s evaluation of the evidence.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering here.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Several independent sources were quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story included comparisons between robotic surgery and other laparascopic and traditional surgery throughout.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The growing use of robotic surgery – despite questions about the evidence – is the focus of the story.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story stated “Despite the DaVinci’s popularity, its surgical talents may not surpass those of flesh-and-blood physicians.”

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear the story didn’t rely on a news release.

Total Score: 10 of 10 Satisfactory


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