SEATTLE – according to a review of 86,953 cases in the 2015 Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program database.
“Robotic sleeve gastrectomy increases [use of] hospital resources. ... These findings may explain the low utilization rate of the robotic approach to sleeve gastrectomy,” said lead investigator Reza Alizadeh, MD, a surgery resident at the University of California, Irvine.
Sleeve gastrectomy has eclipsed gastric bypass as the most common weight loss surgery in United States. While most are done laparoscopically, the use of robots is becoming more common, so the investigators wanted to compare outcomes in a large number of cases. They turned to the metabolic and bariatric surgery database, which is jointly maintained by the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Emergent, converted, and revision cases were excluded from the analysis to avoid confounding.
Almost 94% of the cases were done laparoscopically, with the rest done robotically. Mean operative time was 101 min in the robotic arm, and 1.5% of patients developed anastomotic leaks. Mean operative time in the laparoscopic group was 74 minutes, and 0.5% of patients developed leaks. After adjustment for potential confounders, leaks were 3.4 times more likely with the robotic approach (95% confidence interval, 2.47-4.0; P less than .01). It wasn’t possible to determine whether there were any differences in the type of stapling done in the two groups.
Meanwhile, 0.8% of robotic surgery patients developed surgical site infections versus 0.6% of the laparoscopic cases. After adjustment, infections were 38% more likely with the robot (95% CI, 1.01-1.89; P = 0.03). Dr. Alizadeh noted that the database only goes out to 30 days, so “the true complication rates may be underestimated.”
The findings are consistent with previous investigations. It’s unclear whether there’s something inherently riskier about robotic sleeve gastrectomy itself or whether surgeons haven’t quite got the knack of it yet. The higher leak rate with robotic surgery, “I believe, is mostly related to the small number of [robotic] cases being done. We are still in the beginning stages of utilizing the robotic approach. Maybe there’s a learning curve, and we need more experience and more practice,” Dr. Alizadeh said at the World Congress of Endoscopic Surgery hosted by SAGES & CAGS.
Indeed,that it takes more than two dozen cases to become proficient in another procedure, robotic esophagectomy.