Robots aren't any better at performing surgery, they just cost more

Robots may be gaining an edge in package delivery, perhaps even telemarketing, but a new study says that surgeries performed using robots aren't any more successful than traditional surgical methods. What they are, however, is more expensive.


The study from Johns Hopkins, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, took a comparative look at robotic and traditional surgical methods in performing colectomies. In every metric the researchers checked — complication rates, mortality rates, length of hospital stay — the robots were unable to outperform their human counterparts, except one: cost. The robo-surgeries ended up charging an average of an additional $3,000 per surgery.

A previous study from Columbia in JAMA, comparing the results of robotic and human surgeries in performing a hysterectomy, found no added benefits to robo-surgery (and an additional $2100 stacked onto the bill.) The FDA has also been taking a look at the rise in incident reports from the use of robots in surgery — earlier this year they began surveying doctors on which procedures robotic surgeries did and didn't work for, and what kind of training they'd received.

Of course, robotic surgery is a fairly new field and, as training and tech gets better, the results could get increasingly better and the costs lower. So, what do you think? Do you want robots involved in your medical care? If so, how much?


Image: SRI International.

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