Some think I am a Luddite. Other asked if I remembered all the naysayers 20 years ago who said that laparoscopic surgery was unnecessary. The answer is “Yes, but this is different.”
Here is why robotic cholecystectomy may not be the standard of care in the future.
Yesterday, a former resident of mine asked me if I thought he would be excluded from performing gallbladder surgery if he did not take a course in robotic surgery. I said I didn’t think so but since this thing is being marketed so heavily, it may become consumer-driven. He then told me that the hospital where he works has only one robot.
The lights came on.
There are about 700,000 cholecystectomies done in the US every year. How many robots would have to be purchased at $1.5M apiece to accommodate the volume? General surgeons would also be competing for use of the robot with gynecologists, urologists and colorectal surgeons, to name a few.
Will it be practical for busy hospitals to buy three or four robots? Are there more important things to spend health care dollars on? I think so.