Monday, October 10, 2011

Robotic surgery--measure twice, cut once

Especially if you are facing prostate surgery and especially if your doctor’s hospital has purchased robotic equipment, you may be hearing about robotic surgery.

This is not a robot clanking in and leaning over the table—it’s robotic arms and tools being manipulated by a surgeon at the computer.

Recently, a writer friend working in a hospital PR dept told me they were really touting the robot and she wasn’t so sure it was always the better option. She was conflicted.

Gary Schwitzer wrote about this in his HealthNewsReview blog.

His take was that the manufacturers of the robots were VERY interested in this technology being offered, recommended, and used. He cited a study in the Journal for Healthcare Quality on 400 randomly selected hospital websites on robotic surgery. About 41% of hospital websites talk about it. Of these, 37% put it on their homepage, with ¾’s using manufacturer photos or linking to a company website.

No websites mentioned risks.

Robotic surgery has jumped by 400% in the last 4 years. Proponents say it’s more precise, requiring smaller incisions and shorter hospital stays.

Others say these surgeries take longer, cost more, and the patient is under longer.

Randomized studies showing benefits are non-existent.

New does not always mean better—one doctor reminds us.

So…Look into this if it’s recommended. Who is saying it’s better--the hospital or some copy the maker wrote. See how many the doctor has done—some of this training is in weekend courses…

This is your body!

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