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Eur J Pediatr Surg. 2009 Oct;19(5):311-5. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1233495. Epub 2009 Oct 14.

Paediatric robotic surgery in clinical practice: a cost analysis.

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University Hospital, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Lund, Sweden.



Since 2006 we have used robotic assistance when performing minimally invasive laparoscopic fundoplications in children. We compared the costs of robotic surgery with the costs for open and laparoscopic surgery to test our hypothesis that the increased costs of the new technology are acceptable.


Costs were calculated using the regional hospital prices for our first 14 fundoplications in children, performed with the aid of the da Vinci Surgical System from Intuitive Surgical. We compared these costs with those of our ten latest fundoplications performed using open and laparoscopic surgery, respectively. There were no differences in the demographic data, work-up or indications for surgery between the three groups of children.


The mean cost of robotic surgical fundoplications (EUR 9 584) was 7% higher than the mean cost of laparoscopic surgery (EUR 8 982) and 9% lower than the mean costs for open surgical procedures (EUR 10 521). These differences can be explained by the increased cost of robotic instruments (EUR 2 081 per operation). The duration of the operation and the duration of in-hospital stay are comparable to those of laparoscopic surgical interventions. The time required for the operative intervention was considerably longer than for the open surgical procedure; the duration of the in-hospital stay was only half of that of the open surgical procedure. The patients seemed to benefit from the use of robotic instruments with less morphine (as a marker of less postoperative pain) and a shorter hospital stay.


The introduction of robotic assistance into surgical practice involves increased in-hospital costs, mainly because of the cost of the new instruments. This increase in cost can be offset by the shorter hospital stay compared to open surgery. After laparoscopic surgery the hospital stay is about the same as after operations performed with robotic assistance. Cheaper instruments and shorter operating time will make robotic surgery cost efficient in the future. The benefit for the patients is less trauma due to the use of minimally invasive surgery and a shorter hospital stay. Thus, the higher initial costs may be considered worthwhile.

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