Since its introduction in the 1990s, some 2000 robots have been sold in the U.S. for procedures ranging from head and neck surgery to routine hysterectomies. Although a robot provides a benefit in some operations, it is being used for procedures where there are no advantages and there may be added risks. As study of more than 250,000 hysterectomies performed with a robot had no better outcomes and the surgery takes longer and is more expensive. Reviews of studies on other operations including gallbladder, colorectal surgery, and procedures for reverse reflux have reached similar conclusions.
According to the FDA, robotic surgery has been associated with 71 deaths and 34% increase in adverse events during surgery. In 2010, a 55 year old man underwent robotic surgery to remove his prostate. The robotic procedure required that he be held in an unnatural position which caused him nerve damage and permanent loss of use of his left hand.
There are no national training standards for robotic surgery. Many surgeons take a one-day online instruction.
It is important that you ask the surgeon who proposes robotic surgery how many such surgeries he or she has performed and the complication rate.
New technology is not necessarily better. There is a learning curve in mastering technology and the surgeon's skill and experience is important to achieve a good outcome.
Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP represents victims of surgical malpractice. Call for a free consultation at (212) 983-3000. Visit us on our website at www.weisfuselaw.com.