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Robot Hysterectomies Are Not Worth It Yet: OB/GYN Group

Update Date: Mar 14, 2013 05:27 PM EDT

Many of us are more familiar with the technology of our cell phones and laptops, but technology has been revolutionizing medicine in recent years. While many advances may seem rather far away, like vaccines for cancer and for HIV, many are here today - like robot surgeries. One prominent procedure is robot hysterectomies, which have already been performed on many women. However, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warns that robot hysterectomies may not be the best idea yet for most women.

According to Businessweek, a robot hysterectomy is performed with a doctor using a device like a video game console a few feet away from the patient. The doctor looks at a screen that shows the display of a 3-D camera that reveals the surgery as it transpires in real time. Using foot pedals and hand controls, the doctor controls the robot that is outfitted with mechanical arms and surgical tools.

The surgery may be state-of-the-art and cool but, according to the Associated Press, the doctors' trade group says that the best choice is a relatively old-fashioned one. More traditionally, doctors have performed hysterectomies through the vagina using old-fashioned surgical tools. The group says that remains the best bet.

The reason for the assertion, the doctors say, is that robot surgeries are not cost-effective. Many companies may be using aggressive marketing to lure in women. However, the robots are expensive, with those produced by the company Intuitive costing $1.5 million each, and research has not yet shown that they reduce complications. One recent study found that the robot surgeries added $2,000 to the procedure's cost.

"Adding this expensive technology for routine surgical care does not improve patient outcomes," James T. Breeden, the president of the organization, said in a statement. "There is no good data proving that robotic hysterectomy is even as good as, let alone better than, existing and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives."

The doctors say that the surgeries may be useful for some women with complex and unusual conditions, but that there is little research proving that.

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