Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG), beset by a series of studies questioning the value of its da Vinci surgical robot, is touting a large independent study showing that minimally invasive prostatectomies are safer than traditional, open surgical techniques.
The study, published in the journal Urology, examined data from 5,319 radical prostatectomies. More than 4,000 of the procedures were minimally invasive, performed either laparoscopically or via robotic surgery, with the remainder performed using open surgery.
"Although operative time was significantly longer in the [minimally invasive] group, there were significantly fewer perioperative blood transfusions and shorter mean length of stay," according to the study, "Perioperative Outcomes for Laparoscopic and Robotic Compared With Open Prostatectomy Using the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) Database."
"Major postoperative morbidity and mortality were 5% in the [minimally invasive] group and 9% in the open group (P <.001). Age, body mass index, presence of medical comorbidities, and open surgical technique were all independently predictive of major complications and mortality on multivariate analysis," the study found.
Intuitive, reeling from a series of studies that have questioned the value and safety of robotic surgery, has disputed their findings. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company argues that many of the studies are misleading because they compare robotic surgery with laparoscopy rather than open surgery. The latest study is important, the company said today, because the NSQIP database tracks complications for 30 days after procedures, rather than following only complications that occur during operations.
"When evaluating minimally invasive surgery techniques, particularly robotic-assisted surgery, which is now the standard of care in the United States for prostatectomies, it is important to use the surgery it is replacing as a comparator," Dr. Myriam Curet, Intuitive’s Chief Medical Advisor, said in prepared remarks. "The introduction of laparoscopic urologic surgery and subsequent development of robotic techniques have dramatically increased the use of minimally invasive radical prostate surgery. This examination of the most robust, independent surgical database clearly demonstrates that a minimally invasive radical prostatectomy can be safely performed with low complication rates, particularly when compared to alternative procedures."
ISRG shares ticked up 0.9% today to $378.25 apiece as of about 11:10 a.m.