Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Robot hot among surgeons but FDA taking fresh look

CHICAGO — The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries nationwide last year — triple the number just four years earlier.

But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it, and the high cost of using the robotic system.

Is it time to curb the robot enthusiasm?

Some doctors say yes, concerned that the "wow" factor and heavy marketing are behind the boost in use. They argue that there is not enough robust research showing that robotic surgery is at least as good or better than conventional surgeries.

The da Vinci is used for operations that include removing prostates, gallbladders and wombs, repairing heart valves, shrinking stomachs and transplanting organs. Its use has grown worldwide, but the system is most popular in the United States.

"We are at the tip of the iceberg. What we thought was impossible 10 years ago is now commonplace," said Dr. Michael Stifelman, robotic surgery chief at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

But the Food and Drug Administration is looking into a spike in reported problems. Earlier this year, the FDA began surveying surgeons using the robotic system. The agency conducts such surveys of device use routinely, but FDA spokeswoman Synim Rivers said the reason for it now "is the increase in number of reports received" about da Vinci.

Reports filed since early last year include at least five deaths.

Last year there were 367,000 robot-assisted surgeries versus 114,000 in 2008, according to da Vinci's maker, Intuitive Surgical Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif.

Complications can occur with any type of surgery, and so far it's unclear if they are more common in robotic operations. That's part of what the FDA is trying to find out.

Dr. Pier Giulianotti, chief of minimally invasive and robotic surgery at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System in Chicago, sits at the control panel of the da Vinci robot system in March.

Associated Press

Dr. Pier Giulianotti, chief of minimally invasive and robotic surgery at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System in Chicago, sits at the control panel of the da Vinci robot system in March.

Robot hot among surgeons but FDA taking fresh look 04/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 9:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.