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

Carol Peckham; Joseph Colella, MD


June 20, 2013

In This Article


Medscape: So you're seeing this as an almost universal technology for any kind of surgery.

Dr. Colella: Correct. Robotic surgery competes with other very well established, very safe technologies, even in the field of vascular surgeries -- by which I mean operating on blood vessels -- it's been done and it's been done successfully. Of course, the noninvasive, percutaneous vascular procedures have been around for the better part of 10 years and have evolved into a very effective, almost perfect tool, which would be difficult for the da Vinci to replace. I know of neurosurgeons who are evaluating it and looking at its use in many of their procedures because of its precision and visual capabilities.

Medscape: Is there anything else we should know?

Dr. Colella: There is one more advantage of robotic surgery that is unique, certainly, to what I do, and I think it is going to be applicable and advantageous across many other specialties as surgeons experience this. Many surgical procedures, as you know, carry the risk for deep venous thrombosis, which on some occasions can produce life-threatening pulmonary emboli. We try to prevent these using anticoagulants, which increases the risk for bleeding. Now, using the example of gastric bypass, the robot is so efficient in allowing greater use of sutures rather than staples that the incidence of bleeding is reduced to an almost infinitesimal number. As a result, we have fewer concerns about giving anticoagulants preoperatively and so achieving the greatest impact on deep venous thrombosis reduction. Nobody ever anticipated that as being a benefit to robotic surgery. This is not directly a function of the robot, but it is closely tied to what you can accomplish by using the robot.

Another advantage that gets lost on many people who don't truly understand robotic surgery is that this is computer technology. With computers rapidly expanding in terms of their capabilities, the robot follows right along. Its potential is unlimited. It's only bound by imagination and the limitations of computer processing. Laparoscopy has completed its evolution; innovation in that technology is pretty much done.


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.