Robotic assistance or telemanipulation is the latest technological advance in minimally invasive surgery.
Its future implementation will depend on the advantages that it can provide over standard laparoscopy or open surgery.
Dr Gutt and colleagues assessed all Medline-cited papers (from case reports to reviews) about telemanipulators used in visceral surgery.
The group then analyzed the data in each paper to enable an up-to-date review of robot-assisted abdominal surgery by the most advanced telemanipulator (da Vinci®).
The researchers found that most papers presented case series demonstrating the feasibility of robotic technology in performing a specific procedure.
|Robot-assisted procedures generally showed an increased operating time but had similar rates of mortality in comparison to those of laparoscopic surgery|
|British Journal of Surgery|
In addition, most of the comparative studies of robot-assisted surgery versus standard laparoscopic or open surgery were matched cohort studies.
The research group noted that robot-assisted procedures generally showed an increased operating time but had similar rates of conversion, intraoperative and postoperative complications, and mortality in comparison to those of laparoscopic surgery.
Consistent long-term follow-up data were missing and only one randomized clinical trial was conducted.
Dr Gutt concluded, "Robot-assisted surgery appears safe and feasible for certain standard surgical procedures."
"However, at its current level of development, it offers no clear, significant advantage over standard laparoscopic techniques."