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Minerva Urol Nefrol. 2009 Jun;61(2):121-8.

Robotic laparoscopic surgery: cost and training.

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  • 1Section of Laparoscopic Urology, Institute of Urology, University College Hospital, London, UK.


The advantages of minimally invasive surgery are well accepted. Shorter hospital stays, decreased postoperative pain, rapid return to preoperative activity, decreased postoperative ileus, and preserved immune function are among the benefits of the laparoscopic approach. However, the instruments of laparoscopy afford surgeons limited precision and poor ergonomics, and their use is associated with a significant learning curve and the amount of time and energy necessary to develop and maintain such advanced laparoscopic skills is not insignificant. The robotic surgery allows all laparoscopists to perform advanced laparoscopic procedures with greater ease. The potential advantages of surgical robotic systems include making advanced laparoscopic surgical procedures accessible to surgeons who do not have advanced video endoscopic training and broadening the scope of surgical procedures that can be performed using the laparoscopic method. The wristed instruments, x10 magnifications, tremor filtering, scaling of movements and three-dimensional view allow the urologist to perform the intricate dissection and anastomosis with high precision. The robot is not, however, without significant disadvantages as compared with traditional laparoscopy. These include greater expense and consumption of operating room resources such as space and the availability of skilled technical staff, complete elimination of tactile feedback, and more limited options for trocar placement. The current cost of the da Vinci system is $ 1.2 million and annual maintenance is $ 138000. Many studies suggest that depreciation and maintenance costs can be minimised if the number of robotic cases is increased. The high cost of purchasing and maintaining the instruments of the robotic system is one of its many disadvantages. The availability of the robotic systems to only a limited number of centres reduces surgical training opportunities. Hospital administrators and surgeons must define the reasons for developing a robotic surgical program: it is very important to show that robotics will add a dimension that will benefit the hospital, the patient care and institutional recognition. Another essential task to overcome is the important education of the operating room nursing staff, a significant difference between this modality and traditional surgery. Without operating room environment support, most surgeons will revert to traditional methods even after a few successful robotics cases. As the field of robotic surgery continues to grow, graduate medical education and continuing medical education programs that address the surgical robotic learning needs of residents and practicing surgeons need to be developed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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