Robotic surgery's benefits not yet proven
Hospitals may be misleading their patients about the superiority of robotic surgery over conventional surgery, according to new research from Johns Hopkins.
Robotic surgery is the latest high tech thing, and many facilities are investing heavily in equipment that they then tout on their websites. But much of the information and images are provided by the manufacturers, said Dr. Marty Makary, an associate professor of surgery at Hopkins’s School of Medicine and the study leader.
Four in 10 hospital websites out of 400 analyzed were publicizing the use of robotic surgery for minimally invasive surgery, and most said it’s better, though there have been no randomized, controlled studies, Makary said. And the hospitals don’t even say to what surgery the robotics are being compared.
“The public regards a hospital's official website as an authoritative source of medical information in the voice of a physician,” Makary said in a statement. “But in this case, hospitals have outsourced patient education content to the device manufacturer, allowing industry to make claims that are unsubstantiated by the literature. It's dishonest and it's misleading.”
Use of robotics has grown 400 percent in the last four years for common procedures such as gynecological, heart and prostate surgeries, Makary said. He said manufacturers can’t back up claims that robotics are more precise and make smaller incisions and lead to shorter hospitals stays and less pain.
Makary, reporting online in the Journal for Healthcare Quality, said they take more time so they keep patients under anesthesia longer. They also are more expensive.
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