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Trend to new robotic tech for some surgeries may not be worth it

Doctors perform laparoscopic surgery using robotic arms while looking at a three-dimensional image from cameras inserted into the patient's abdomen. Photo: Mike Derer / AP

Two separate studies published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest outcomes for robotic-assisted surgeries when compared with other minimally invasive surgeries were not significant enough to balance the higher costs and longer treatment times involved.

Why it matters: Expensive robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery has become the trend in hospitals over the past two decades, as it allows for 3-D visualization and an enhanced range of instrument motion. However, there is limited rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of this technology in clinical practice, according to Columbia University's Jason Wright, who wrote a JAMA editorial about the two studies.