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Adverse events following robotic surgery: population-based analysis

Muaddi H, Stukel TA, de Mestral C, Nathens A, Pautler SE, Shayegan B, Hanna WC, Schlachta C, Breau RH, Hopkins L, Jackson T, Karanicolas PJ. Br J Surg. 2022; 109(8):763-71. Epub 2022 May 25. DOI:

Background — Robotic surgery was integrated into some healthcare systems despite there being few well designed, real-world studies on safety or benefit. This study compared the safety of robotic with laparoscopic, thoracoscopic, and open approaches in common robotic procedures.

Methods — This was a population-based, retrospective study of all adults who underwent prostatectomy, hysterectomy, pulmonary lobectomy, or partial nephrectomy in Ontario, Canada, between 2008 and 2018. The primary outcome was 90-day total adverse events using propensity score overlap weights, and secondary outcomes were minor or major morbidity/adverse events.

Results — Data on 24 741 prostatectomy, 75 473 hysterectomy, 18 252 pulmonary lobectomy, and 6608 partial nephrectomy operations were included. Relative risks for total adverse events in robotic compared with open surgery were 0.80 (95 per cent c.i. 0.74 to 0.87) for radical prostatectomy, 0.44 (0.37 to 0.52) for hysterectomy, 0.53 (0.44 to 0.65) for pulmonary lobectomy, and 0.72 (0.54 to 0.97) for partial nephrectomy. Relative risks for total adverse events in robotic surgery compared with a laparoscopic/thoracoscopic approach were 0.94 (0.77 to 1.15), 1.00 (0.82 to 1.23), 1.01 (0.84 to 1.21), and 1.23 (0.82 to 1.84) respectively.

Conclusion — The robotic approach is associated with fewer adverse events than an open approach but similar to a laparoscopic/thoracoscopic approach. The benefit of the robotic approach is related to the minimally-invasive approach rather than the platform itself.