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Robotic versus laparoscopic versus open colorectal surgery: towards defining criteria to the right choice

  • Zelhart, Matthew1
  • Kaiser, Andreas M.1
  • 1 University of Southern California, Department of Surgery, Division of Colorectal Surgery, Keck School of Medicine, 1441 Eastlake Avenue, Suite 7418, Los Angeles, CA, 90033, USA , Los Angeles (United States)
Published Article
Surgical Endoscopy
Publication Date
Aug 15, 2017
DOI: 10.1007/s00464-017-5796-2
Springer Nature


ObjectiveAnalysis of various parameters related to the patient, the disease, and the needed surgical maneuvers to develop guidance for preoperative selection of the appropriate and the best approach for a given patient.Summary background dataRapid advances in minimally invasive surgical technology are fascinating and challenging alike. It can be difficult for surgeons to keep up with new modalities that come on to the market place and to assess their true value, i.e., distinguish between fashionable trends versus scientific evidence. Laparoscopy established minimally invasive surgery and has revolutionized surgical concepts and approaches to diseases since its advent in the early 1990s. Now, with robotic surgery rapidly gaining traction in this high-tech surgical landscape, it remains to be seen how the long-term surgical landscape will be affected.MethodsReview of the surgical evolution, published data and cost factors to reflect on advantages and disadvantages in order to develop a broader perspective on the role of various technology platforms.ResultsAdvocates for robotic technology tout its advantages of 3D views, articulating wrists, lack of hand tremor, and surgeon comfort, which may extend the scope of minimally invasive surgery by allowing for operations in places that are more difficult to access for laparoscopic surgery (e.g., the deep pelvis), for complex tasks (e.g., intracorporeal suturing), and by decreasing the learning curve. But conventional laparoscopy has also evolved and offers high-definition 3D vision to all team members. It remains to be seen whether all together the robot features outweigh the downsides of higher cost, operative times, lack of tactile feedback, possibly unusual complications, inability to move the operative table with ease, and the difficulty to work in different quadrants.ConclusionsWhile technical and design developments will likely address some shortcomings, the value-based impact of the various approaches will have to be examined in general and on a case-by-case basis. Value as the ratio of quality over cost depends on numerous parameters (disease, complications, patient, efficiency, finances).

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