INTRODUCTION: Robotic laparoscopic surgery is postulated to result in better surgical results by allowing improved instrument manipulation and three-dimensional vision. The authors' experience performing robot-assisted laparoscopic colorectal surgery is reported.
METHOD: Standard laparoscopic procedures with robot-assisted laparoscopic colon mobilization and vascular ligation were performed. Data relating to the operative procedure, hospital stay, and direct costs were collected. Results were compared with age, gender, and procedure case-matched controls taken from a prospective laparoscopic colorectal surgery database.
RESULTS: Six robot-assisted laparoscopic surgeries (2 right hemicolectomies, 3 sigmoid colectomies, and 1 Wells rectopexy) were performed between December 2001 and June 2002. There was no associated morbidity. Operative time was increased from a median time of 108 minutes for standard laparoscopic colorectal surgery to 165 minutes for robot-assisted laparoscopic surgeries (P = 0.0313; Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-rank test for non-parametric data). This was primarily a result of the time required for robot set-up. Blood loss, length of stay, and hospital cost were not significantly different between groups. Additional direct equipment costs for RAC cases included robotic laparoscopic instruments and sterile drapes (approximately US $350 per case), without including acquisition and maintenance costs for the robot.
CONCLUSION: Robot-assisted laparoscopic colectomy is a feasible and safe procedure. Although three-dimensional vision and dexterity are facilitated, operative time is increased and the overall additional expense of robotics is of concern. Robot-assisted laparoscopic colectomy requires further evaluation to establish clinical and financial benefits before introduction to routine practice. Such techniques may, in the future, facilitate complex laparoscopic techniques.
(C) The ASCRS 2003