The safety and efficacy of robotic bariatric surgery was the subject of a study recently published online in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.
Robotic-assisted technology has emerged as one of the most recent advances within the field of bariatric surgery. While there is agreement as to the technical advantages that robotic bariatric surgery offers compared to traditional surgical methods, there is much debate regarding clinical outcomes and financial issues.
The study, “Robotic bariatric surgery: a systematic review,” was conducted by researchers at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The researchers concluded that “the application of robotics appears to be a safe option within the realm of bariatric surgery.”
For this study, researchers performed a PubMed search for robotic bariatric surgery from 2005 to 2011. A total of 18 studies were included in the review that met the inclusion criteria of English language, original research, human, and bariatric surgical procedures. They collected the data from these studies and recorded the results.
The review showed the following results:
- Bariatric surgery performed with the use of robotics had similar or lower complication rates compared with traditional laparoscopy
- Robotic laparoscopic surgery provides superior imaging and freedom of movement compared with traditional laparoscopy
- The learning curve for robotic gastric bypass appears to be shorter than with the traditional laparoscopic approach
In one of the referenced studies, “Robotic vs. conventional laparoscopic gastric banding: a comparison of 407 cases” (Surg Endosc. 2011 May;25(5):1402-8. Epub 2010 Oct 26), researchers concluded that the robotic and conventional approaches were similar in complications rates, operating time, and length of postoperative hospital stay.
Regarding cost, the referenced study, “Reducing cost of surgery by avoiding complications: the model of robotic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass” (Obes Surg. 2012 Jan;22(1):52-61) found that robotic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass can be cost effective due to balancing greater robotic overhead costs with the savings associated with avoiding stapler use and costly anastomotic complications.
The researchers concluded that robotic bariatric surgery appears to be a safe option, but went on to mention the need for additional studies to learn more about the role of robotics within the field of bariatric surgery. They specifically mentioned a need for prospective randomized trials comparing robotic and laparoscopic outcomes and studies with longer follow-up times to determine whether there are any differences in long-term outcomes with the use of robotics versus traditional laparoscopy.
Robotic-assisted surgery has been used by bariatric surgeons to perform gastric bypass, gastric banding, and the gastric sleeve. The advanced technology allows these surgical procedures to be performed through smaller incisions with more precise movements and an excellent magnified view of the surgical area. Robotic bariatric surgery is an alternative to both traditional open surgery and conventional laparoscopy.