Anyone who has had the opportunity to see surgery with the da Vinci surgical robot can tell you that it is amazing to watch. But is it actually better for patients, or is it just an expensive (and admittedly awesome) tool? A recent study out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham suggests that the answer is “both.”
Earlier studies demonstrated that, in head and neck cancer patients, robotic surgery is better than standard laser microsurgery in terms of patients recovering the ability to swallow. While this is certainly desirable, the authors of the current study wanted to make sure that the robot-assisted method was effective at actually curing the patient as well. Eighty-nine patients had their cancers removed with the Da Vinci system, and the survival rate (86.3%), was comparable to standard surgical approaches.
UAB otolaryngologist and the study’s senior author J. Scott Magnuson, M.D had the following to say :
“This is a relatively new technique, and long-term oncologic outcomes are not available… However, the early functional and oncologic results justify the continued treatment of select patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas with robotic-assisted surgeries.”
UAB press release: Robotic surgery for head and neck cancer shows promise
Abstract in Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery: Transoral Robotic-Assisted Surgery for Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma