Robotic-assisted lobectomy is being offered increasingly to patients. However, little is known about its safety, complication profile, or effectiveness.
Patients undergoing lobectomy in in the United States from 2008 to 2011 were identified in the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. In-hospital mortality, complications, length of stay, and cost for patients undergoing robotic-assisted lobectomy were compared with those for patients undergoing thoracoscopic lobectomy.
We identified 2,498 robotic-assisted and 37,595 thoracoscopic lobectomies performed from 2008 to 2011. The unadjusted rate for any complication was higher for those undergoing robotic-assisted lobectomy than for those undergoing thoracoscopic lobectomy (50.1% vs 45.2%, P < .05). Specific complications that were higher included cardiovascular complications (23.3% vs 20.0%, P < .05) and iatrogenic bleeding complications (5.0% vs 2.0%, P < .05). The higher risk of iatrogenic bleeding complications persisted in multivariable analyses (adjusted OR, 2.64; 95% CI, 1.58-4.43). Robotic-assisted lobectomy costs significantly more than thoracoscopic lobectomy ($22,582 vs $17,874, P < .05).
In this early experience with robotic surgery, robotic-assisted lobectomy was associated with a higher rate of intraoperative injury and bleeding than was thoracoscopic lobectomy, at a significantly higher cost.