The aim of this study was to examine real-life patterns of care and patient outcomes associated with robot-assisted cholecystectomy (RAC) in New York State (NYS).
Although robotic assistance may offer some technological advantages, RACs are associated with higher procedural costs and longer operating times compared to traditional laparoscopic cholecystectomies (LCs). Evidence on long-term patient outcomes after RAC from large population-based datasets remains limited and inconsistent.
Using NYS inpatient and ambulatory surgery data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (2009–2017), we conducted bivariate and multivariate analyses to examine patterns of utilization, complications, and secondary procedures following cholecystectomies.
Among 299,306 minimally invasive cholecystectomies performed in NYS between 2009 and 2017, one thousand one hundred eighteen (0.4%) were robot-assisted. Compared to those undergoing LC, RAC patients were older, travelled further for surgery, and were more likely to have public insurance and preoperative comorbidities. RAC versus LC patients were more significantly likely to have conversions to open procedure (4.9% vs 2.8%), bile duct injuries (1.3% vs 0.4%), and major reconstructive interventions (0.6% vs 0.1%), longer median length of stay (3 vs 1 day), readmissions (7.3% vs 4.4%), and higher 12-month post-index surgery hospital charges (P < 0.01 for all estimates). Other postoperative complications decreased over time for LC but remained unchanged for RAC patients.
Patients receiving RAC in NYS experienced higher rates of complications compared to LC patients. Addressing patient-, surgeon-, and system-level factors associated with intra/postoperative complications and applying recently promulgated safe cholecystectomy strategies coupled with advanced imaging modalities like fluorescence cholangiography to RAC may improve patient outcomes.