The Promotion of Robotic Gynecologic Surgery by Hospitals: Are Our Patients Being Misled?

Andrew M. Kaunitz, MD


October 12, 2012

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Hello. I'm Andrew Kaunitz, Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Florida. Today I'd like to discuss the promotion of robotic gynecologic surgery by hospitals: Are our patients being misled?

Driving around Jacksonville, Florida, I often encounter billboards on which local hospitals promote robotic hysterectomy. In a recent article, investigators analyzed Web-based marketing for hospitals with 200 or more beds located in 6 large states.[1]

Of more than 400 Websites evaluated, almost half included marketing for robotic gynecologic surgery. Manufacturer-based images and text, as well as the robot's brand name, were noted in many of these Websites. More than three quarters of Websites indicated that robotic surgery was associated with less pain, shorter recovery time, and less blood loss. Furthermore, robotic surgery was often referred to as better overall or the most effective surgical approach.

Evidence-based data, cost, and operative time associated with robotic gynecologic surgery were rarely addressed by these Websites.

As the results of randomized trials comparing robotic with conventional surgical approaches have become available,[2,3] we recognize that while the benefits of robotics in gynecologic surgery are limited, use of the robot clearly increases costs and operating times.

This survey[1] indicates that much of the information hospitals disseminate with regard to robotic gynecologic surgery is not evidence-based, and in fact is influenced by the manufacturer. I am concerned that this approach to promoting robotic technology for gynecologic surgery drives up healthcare costs while misleading our patients.

Thank you. I am Andrew Kaunitz.