Robotic surgery makes weight loss procedure safer

September 25th, 2008 - 3:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 25 (IANS) Robot-assisted weight loss surgery cuts down a patient’s risk of developing a rare but serious complication, according to a five-year study.Surgeons at the Texas University Medical School (TUMS), Houston, statistically analysed operation times, length of hospital stay and complications in 605 patients who either underwent laproscopic gastric bypass with surgeons or with robotic help at Texas Medical Centre.

The one significant difference that stood out was the gastrointestinal leak rate. None of the patients in robotic-assisted group experienced such a leak, while six in the laparoscopy group suffered this complication within 90 days of their surgery.

“While robotic surgery may take slightly longer and be more costly to use than traditional laparoscopy, we believe that the improved outcome and decreased leak rates may offset the cost to some extent,” said Erik B. Wilson, the study’s senior co-author and director of TUMS’ Minimally Invasive Surgeons group.

These findings were published in the latest edition of the Journal of Robotic Surgery.

Wilson said another advantage of robotics is the clear, three-dimensional view of the operative field which allows the surgeon to better visualize tissue planes and place more precise sutures, according to a TUMS release.

A gastrointestinal leak, which can occur when the small intestine is reconnected to a small pouch created in the stomach, often produces symptoms of abdominal and chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, nausea, vomiting and rarely death.

Other results were similar. Robotically-assisted surgery took only 17 minutes longer than the laparoscopic procedure. Hospital stays averaged three days in both groups, and the overall complication rate was 14 percent, with fewer than four percent being classified as major complications among the two groups of patients.

Co-author Brad E. Snyder, assistant professor, surgery, said the robotic technique offers numerous advantages to bariatric (gastric) surgeons, and these advantages may play a role in the reduced leak rate.

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