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February 20, 2013

Comparative Effectiveness Research on Robotic Surgery

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Center for Surgery and Public Health (Dr Weissman), Patient-Centered Comparative Effectiveness Research Center (Dr Weissman), Brigham and Women's Hospital (Drs Weissman and Zinner), Boston, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2013;309(7):721-722. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1107

During the last 10 years, the use of robotic-assisted surgery has substantially increased, beginning with urologic procedures and expanding to include gynecologic procedures and many others.1,2 Robotic-assisted surgery is a type of minimally invasive procedure that in fact facilitates laparoscopic surgery. Both approaches provide benefits compared with open surgery, including smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, less postoperative pain, and possibly quicker return to function.2 As of 2009, more than 200 000 robotically assisted operations had been performed worldwide.2 The reason for its rapid dissemination in the United States may be linked to a number of converging factors, including better ergonomics for the surgeon, marketing campaigns, and the national fascination with technology and innovation. Under other circumstances, this might be an unparalleled success story of US medical ingenuity. However, critics of robotic surgery claim that it is more expensive without providing a concomitant benefit.3,4

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