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Outcomes and Costs Associated With Robotic Colectomy in the Minimally Invasive Era

Tyler, Joshua A. M.D.1; Fox, Justin P. M.D.2; Desai, Mayur M. Ph.D., M.P.H.2,3; Perry, W. Brian M.D.4; Glasgow, Sean C. M.D.1

Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: April 2013 - Volume 56 - Issue 4 - p 458–466
doi: 10.1097/DCR.0b013e31827085ec
Original Contribution: Benign Colorectal Disease

BACKGROUND: Robotic-assisted surgery has become increasingly common; however, it is unclear if its use for colectomy improves in-hospital outcomes compared with the laparoscopic approach.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study is to compare in-hospital outcomes and costs between patients undergoing robotic or laparoscopic colectomy.

DESIGN: This study is a retrospective review of the 2008 to 2009 Nationwide Inpatient Sample.

SETTINGS, PATIENTS, INTERVENTIONS: All adult patients who underwent an elective robotic or laparoscopic colectomy in hospitals performing both procedures (N = 2583 representing an estimated 12,732 procedures) were included.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcomes included intraoperative and postoperative complications, length of stay, and direct costs of care. Regression models were used to compare these outcomes between procedural approaches while controlling for baseline differences in patient characteristics.

RESULTS: Overall, 6.1% of patients underwent a robotic procedure. Factors associated with robotic-assisted colectomy included younger age, benign diagnoses, and treatment at a lower-volume center. Patients undergoing robotic and laparoscopic procedures experienced similar rates of intraoperative (3.0% vs 3.3%; adjusted OR = 0.88 (0.35–2.22)) and postoperative (21.7% vs 21.6%; adjusted OR = 0.84 (0.54–1.30)) complications, as well as risk-adjusted average lengths of stay (5.4 vs 5.5 days, p = 0.66). However, robotic-assisted colectomy resulted in significantly higher costs of care ($19,231 vs $15,807, p < 0.001). Although the overall postoperative morbidity rate was similar between groups, the individual complications experienced by each group were different.

LIMITATIONS: A limitation of this study is the potential miscoding of robotic cases in administrative data.

CONCLUSIONS: Robotic-assisted colectomy significantly increases the costs of care without providing clear reductions in overall morbidity or length of stay. As the use of robotic technology in colon surgery continues to evolve, critical appraisal of the benefits offered in comparison with the resources consumed is required.

1 Department of Surgery, San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas

2 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

3 Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut

4 Department of General Surgery, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, Texas

Financial Disclosure: Drs Fox and Desai are involved with the Clinical Scholars Program, which is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Disclaimers: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy of the US Army, US Air Force, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

Presented at the meeting of The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, San Antonio, TX, June 2 to 6, 2012.

Correspondence: Joshua A. Tyler, M.D., Department of General Surgery, San Antonio Military Medical Center, 3851 Roger Brooke Dr, Ft Sam Houston, TX 78234.E-mail:

© The ASCRS 2013