Is Robotic Surgery Worth Its Price? An Interview With Dr. Joseph Colella

Carol Peckham; Joseph Colella, MD


June 20, 2013

In This Article

The DaVinci Monopoly

Medscape: I read some complaints about the way surgeons are being trained in robotic surgery -- that it's rushed and insufficient in many cases. Have you heard anything about that?

Dr. Colella: I've heard this. I can only speak to my experience with the development of robotic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, which has been similar to the support and training of surgeons across all specialties there who use and employ the robot. The support provided me in learning the robot with bariatric surgery was above and beyond what I was ever expecting. Maybe there are places where they've rushed training, but my colleagues and I have not seen that.

Medscape: Do you see any competitor to da Vinci on the horizon?

Dr. Colella: No, and I'm pretty tuned in to that world because I live in it. Other technologies are attempting to enter that space, but right now the barriers to entry are very significant. It's going to be very difficult for another technology or another company to live up to the track record that has been established. I have nothing to disclose. I have no personal interest in them. I have no financial relationship with them. I just use their products.

Of course, it's inevitable that eventually there will be competition, However, I have not seen a product or a technology that I was interested in trying in any meaningful way that was even remotely comparable to the experience that I have with da Vinci.

Medscape: A major disadvantage, of course, as with any monopoly, is that they can name their price. At this point, the only competition is to return to or just stay with laparoscopy as the alternative to the open procedures.

Dr. Colella: Yes, that's right. However, these hospital systems that are continuing to adopt robotic technology are not doing so just to keep up with the Smiths and the Joneses. If it wasn't making or saving them money, they would not use it. At the end of the day, if this is a money loser, it's not going to be around.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.