The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued a statement advising women that robotic surgery is not the best option for routine hysterectomy.
ACOG president, Dr. James Breeden, said the best choice for most women is for the doctor to operate through the vagina—using standard tools, rather than a robot, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
Breeden says aggressive marketing of robotic surgery may mislead women into thinking robotic surgery is better. But, according to the ACOG’s March 14 statement, there is no evidence that robotic techniques improve women’s outcomes over regular minimally invasive surgeries. “Vaginal hysterectomy, performed through a small opening at the top of the vagina without any abdominal incisions, is the least invasive and least expensive option,” the ACOG statement advises. “When this approach is not possible, laparoscopic hysterectomy is the second least invasive and costly option for patients.” These two approaches have a proven track record for “outstanding patient outcomes,” including low complication rates, the ACOG says.
The ACOG also raises concerns about fiscal responsibility. A recent study found robotic surgery added at least $2,000 to the cost, according to the AP, making it the most expensive of the surgical options while not improving patient outcomes. Robotic surgery may have advantages for women with unusual and complex conditions, but research is needed to show that, the AP writes.
As we’ve previously written, recently filed lawsuits allege severe internal injuries and other complications from robotic surgeries, including chronic pain, disability, and death. The suits claim that a combination of design flaws inherent in the robot, coupled with poor physician training on the device, has resulted in serious injuries.