A recent study by Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has found that robotic surgery has better health benefits for patients and can save the health system money. The large-scale study shows that men who underwent robotic-assisted surgery had shorter hospital stays and required less follow-up prostate cancer treatment.
The study compares the results of over 5000 men who had robotic or open surgery between 2010-2013 at Victorian public hospitals. While none of the 284 men who had robotic surgery required a blood transfusion, 15% of those who had traditional surgery did need one.
Men who received the high-tech operation were also less likely to need further prostate cancer treatment and had a quicker recovery time. Robotic surgery director Associate Professor Declan Murphy says:
“We found that patients in the public system that had traditional open surgery spent almost five days in hospital compared with 1.4 days for patients who had robotic surgery.”
The high-tech treatment is becoming common in the private health system but is not yet widely available in the public system. In Queensland there are currently 6 robots that can perform prostate surgery. However, only 1 of these is available in the public health system and patients must agree to be involved in a trial to have access to it.
As well as looking at the health benefits robotic surgery offers patients, the study also found that it could be beneficial to the public health system. To put it into perspective, professor Murphy says:
“If you factor in the cost of the robot, running it for six to seven years, repairs and equipment, and you offset it against the reduction in bed days, blood transfusions and readmissions, it becomes cost neutral at 140 cases per year.”
In Australia, an average of 55 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day. While not all of these cases need surgery, research found that in Victoria there were enough operations in the public health system in 2013 to make robotic surgery a cost effective option. The report was presented to the Department of Health and the findings will be considered.
Source: The Herald Sun