Robot Surgeons No Better Than Humans

Is robotic surgery better than surgery performed by humans? Somewhat disappointingly (to sf fans), the robots were no better than the regular flesh-and-blood doctors. To be fair, some of these "robots" are devices operated to at least some extent by humans, but still - disappointing.

The study from Johns Hopkins, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, took a comparative look at robotic and traditional surgical methods in performing colectomies. In every metric the researchers checked — complication rates, mortality rates, length of hospital stay — the robots were unable to outperform their human counterparts, except one: cost. The robo-surgeries ended up charging an average of an additional $3,000 per surgery.

A previous study from Columbia in JAMA, comparing the results of robotic and human surgeries in performing a hysterectomy, found no added benefits to robo-surgery (and an additional $2100 stacked onto the bill.) The FDA has also been taking a look at the rise in incident reports from the use of robots in surgery — earlier this year they began surveying doctors on which procedures robotic surgeries did and didn't work for, and what kind of training they'd received.

Worry not, sf fans, we will eventually match reality to artistic vision - the 2-1B autonomous medical droid could do surgery (as well as rehab) on our heroes.


(2-1B medical droid from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)

Via io9.

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