Friday, November 29, 2013

Should you say yes to robotic surgery?

It sounds so modern, so um...cutting edge. Robotic surgery. It's not like Rosie the Jetsons' robot is scrubbing in --it means that remotely controlled arms and instruments will be manipulated by your doctor from a computer.

Stewart Pinkerton, WSJ, Nov 28, 2103, says this was the rage in some hospitals, but reports of injuries are rising. Punctures, tears, burns.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach to hysterectomy--nor is it the most cost-effective.

But each patient is different--this does not mean you should automatically say no.

In 2000, a thousand of these operations were done a year, now it's 450,000. There is usually less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, the need for less pain medication. Also--scars may be smaller.

Surgeons don't get as tired--they can sit at a computer, not bend over a table. The images may show problems better.

But hospitals may be buying the equipment and spreading its use too fast. There are more and more patient complications.

This also may be in part because of different training requirements for surgeons. There is no magic number for procedures a doc must do--usually his or her work is critiqued by someone more experienced.

Go over all this with your doctor before agreeing.

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