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Robotic Surgery Oversold on Hospital Websites, Study Contends
Date:5/22/2011

tic longer and needing to have a second incision to place the robotic arm, he said.

In addition, the researchers looked at the claims made about the benefits of robotic surgery on these sites. "Frankly, the claims are overstated," Makary said. "Improved cancer outcomes -- that's ridiculous."

Thirty-two percent of the sites claimed that robotic surgery improved cancer outcomes, the researchers found. Makary pointed out that in the studies of robotic surgery, patients suffer as many complications as they do with conventional surgery.

Eighty percent of the robotic surgeries done in the United States are urological and gynecological, Makary said. There have been no randomized trials in these areas comparing robotic and conventional surgery, he said.

"To me, this is exactly what is wrong with American health care," Makary said. "We are adopting technology without being up front about the outcomes to consumers. And we adopt technology before we properly evaluate it."

The report is published in the May online edition of the Journal for Healthcare Quality.

For the study, Makary's team looked at the websites of 400 hospitals with 200 beds or more. They looked for whether robotic surgery was available and what information was provided on the hospital's website in June 2010.

They wanted to see how many hospitals used photos and text directly from the manufacturer of the device and what claims were made about the efficacy of robotic surgery.

The researchers found 41 percent of the websites detailed the availability of robotic surgery and how it worked. In addition, 37 percent of these sites had the information on the home page and 66 percent had a link to another page.

The information on 73 percent of these sites came directly from the manufacturer and 33 percent offered a direct link to the manufacturer's site, Makary's group found.

Moreover, 89 percent of these sites said that robotic surgery was better than
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