Another study finds robotic surgery equal but pricier

September 10, 2013 by Brad Perriello

A study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology finds that hysterectomy using a surgical robot is no better than traditional laparoscopy but costs about $2,500 more.

Study: Robotic hysterectomy no better than laparoscopy, costs more

Hysterectomies using surgical robots like Intuitive Surgical's (NSDQ:ISRG)'s da Vinci device are no better than hysterectomies performed laparoscopically, but cost a lot more per procedure, according to a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The researchers examined data from 804,551 hysterectomies performed in 2009 and 2010, of which 20.6% were performed laparoscopically and 5.1% with robotic surgery (the balance were traditional, open surgeries). For the minimally invasive procedures, robotic surgery increased from 9.5% to 13.6%, they found.

Complication rates for laparoscopy and robotic surgery were similar (8.9% for laparoscopy, vs. 8.8% for robotic surgery), but the average cost for robotic surgery was $2,489 higher, according to the study. Per-procedure costs for robotic surgery ranged between $7,105 and $12,780, while laparoscopies cost $5,650-$9,583, the study found.

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"The use of robotic hysterectomy has increased. Perioperative outcomes are similar between laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomy, but robotic cases cost substantially more," the researchers wrote. "Unfortunately, the greater costs associated with robotic-assisted hysterectomy were not reflected in improvement in outcomes."