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Robotic surgery boasts fewer postoperative complications in radical hysterectomy


– Robot-assisted radical hysterectomy is just as safe, or perhaps safer, than open surgery, according to a new study that examined perioperative and postoperative outcomes with long-term follow-ups for both types of procedures.

“Robotic surgery has been expanding for the last 20 years, but still the recurrence rate with cancer patients is missing data because very few studies are published; they don’t have long-term oncologic outcomes, and if [the technology] works properly we have to put it into the literature,” M. Bilal Sert, MD, of Oslo University, said at the annual Minimally Invasive Surgery Week.

Dr. Sert and his coinvestigators identified 215 women who underwent either open or robot-assisted radical hysterectomy between November 2005 and December 2012. All of the procedures were elective and the robot-assisted operations were performed using the da Vinci robotic surgical platform. After excluding neoadjuvant cases, which totaled 19, the researchers looked at data on 196 patients (122 open radical hysterectomy cases and 74 robot-assisted radical hysterectomy cases).

On average, operating time for open radical hysterectomy was 171 minutes, versus 263 minutes for robot-assisted radical hysterectomy. However, the robotic surgery arm had lower mean estimated blood loss than the open surgery cohort: 80 milliliters versus 468 milliliters, respectively (P = .003). Follow-up time frames were shorter in the robotic surgery cohort by 6 months: 46 months reported for robotic surgery, compared with a 52-month average experienced by those in the open surgery cohort.

Both groups experienced recurrences, including 12 patients in the open surgery cohort (9.8%) and 9 patients in the robotic surgery cohort (12.1%) (P = .3), indicating a statistically insignificant difference. Similarly, rates of perioperative complications were 8% for open surgery and 11% for robotic surgery (P = .3), which was not significantly different.

However, rates of postoperative complications were 36% for open surgery and 12% for robotic surgery (P = .001), which was statistically significant.

“Based on our data, I can say that [robot-assisted radical hysterectomy] is safe, and in fact I prefer to use the robot,” Dr. Sert said at the meeting, which was held by the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons. “Of course, robot-assisted surgery will not automatically make you a better surgeon, but on more complicated radical hysterectomy patients, it will help make the surgeon more precise.”

No funding source was disclosed for this study. Dr. Sert reported having no relevant financial disclosures.

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