The Robotics & Power Morcellation Controversy

Robotic GYN Surgery Can Lead To Many Complications

Discover Why CIGC Never Uses Robotics Or Power Morcellation

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What Is Robotic Surgery?

Robotic surgery is performed with the surgeon sitting at a control station, controlling robotic “arms” that have been inserted into the patient’s abdomen at the beginning of the surgery. Under direction from the surgeon, the robotic arms can cut blood vessels, burn tissue, and move organs. Robot-assisted surgery generally requires four to five skin incisions, through which robotic arms can be placed into the patient’s abdomen. These incisions are eight to 12 mm each and are placed above and below the belly button in an arc.

The robot–called the DaVinci Surgical System–is manufactured by Intuitive Surgical. It costs approximately US $1.5-2 million dollars, with a maintenance cost of $150,000-$180,000 per year; it also requires costly disposable instruments.

The Controversy Surrounding Robotics In Gyn Surgery

Despite the increased costs and the lack of benefit to the patient over other laparoscopic techniques, the number of robotic surgeries being performed has increased, mainly due to:

  • Aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing by Intuitive Surgical, the company that manufactures the robot; and
  • Aggressive marketing to doctors and hospitals to convince them to adopt the technology, in order to attract more business.

“Aggressive direct-to-consumer marketing of the latest medical technologies may mislead the public into believing that they are the best choice. Our patients deserve and need factual information about all of their treatment options, including costs, so that they can make truly informed health care decisions.” Dr. Breeden.

More About Robotic GYN Surgery And The Unnecessary Use Of Power Morcellators


The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published articles concluding that robotics is not a better approach than standard laparoscopy. Many surgeons who use a robot to perform minimally invasive procedures lack sufficient training in laparoscopy.

A March 2015 committee opinion from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists states: “Surgeons should be skilled at laparoscopic approaches for a specific procedure before undertaking robotic approaches. Surgeon training, competency guidelines, and quality metrics should be developed at an institutional level.”

Have There Been Any Legal Actions Against Intuitive Surgical, The Manufacturer Of The daVinci Robot, Or FDA Warnings?

Yes. Class action lawsuits have been issued and are being developed by multiple law firms throughout the United States, given the complications reported from robotic surgeries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a recent warning against Intuitive Surgical.

Power Morcellators

The use of a power morcellator in a surgical procedure to remove either fibroids or the uterus has generated a lot of attention for the potential spread of cancer by its spinning blades. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a black box warning to ensure patients are warned about the risks.

A power morcellator grinds up material within the pelvic cavity, making is easier to remove an enlarged uterus or a large fibroid laparoscopically. With the possible risks, power morcellators should never be used for fibroid removal or hysterectomy.

If your surgeon uses a robot and power morcellator to perform hysterectomies, find a GYN surgical specialist who does not. CIGC never uses robotics or power morcellators for any of its procedures.

What Is Conventional Laparoscopic Surgery?

“Conventional” laparoscopy does not use a robot to operate the instruments. With these procedures, the surgeon actually holds the instruments and camera. The surgery is typically performed using 5 mm skin incisions in the lower abdomen. Conventional laparoscopy has been done for years, and is the traditional approach to laparoscopic GYN procedures.

How Are Cigc Surgeries Performed?

Advancements in laparoscopy, extensive training and surgical skill make the CIGC DualPortGYN and LAAM laparoscopic techniques possible. These techniques are performed without using expensive equipment. DualPortGYN and LAAM techniques are used to perform complex procedures like hysterectomy or fibroid removal as outpatient procedures, so patients return home the same day.

Major Journals Or Societies Indicate That Robotics Offers No Benefit Compared To Conventional Laparoscopy

ACOG: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The New England Journal of Medicine
JIMIG: The Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association

“There is no good data proving that robotic hysterectomy is even as good as–let alone better than–existing, and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives.” -Dr. James Breeden, President, American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology

HeadlineMedical JournalDate
Statement on Robotic Surgery by ACOG President James T. Breeden, MDThe American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
Committee Opinion No. 628: Robotic Surgery in GynecologyThe Green JournalMARCH 2015
Laparoscopic hysterectomy appears less painful than robotic surgeryAmerican College of Surgeons (ASC)DECEMBER 2013
Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery in benign gynecologyThe Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology (JMIG)FEBRUARY 2013
Comparative effectiveness research on robotic surgery
Robotically Assisted Vs Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Among Women With Benign Gynecologic Disease
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)FEBRUARY 2013
The commercialization of robotic surgery: unsubstantiated marketing of gynecologic surgery by hospitalsAmerican Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG)SEPTEMBER 2012
News HeadlinePublicationDate
Robotic surgery linked to 144 deaths in the USBBCJULY 2015
Robot Surgery isn’t the First Choice for Uterus Removals
Intuitive surgical loses bid to throw out robot lawsuit
Intuitive Marketed Robot to Less-Skilled Surgeons, Witness Says
Intuitive Trainer Denies Robot Surgery Training Was Watered Down
Intuitive Resembled a Car Dealership, Lawyer Tells Jury
Intuitive Surgical May Not Have Tested Devices Properly
Intuitive Surgical Declines on Warning Letter From FDA
No safety benefit found in use of robot for hysterectomy
Robot surgery damaging patients rises with marketing
Intuitive Surgical Robot Incident Reports Double in Year
Unreported robot surgery injuries open questions for FDA
BloombergMARCH 2013
MARCH 2013
APRIL 2013
MAY 2013
MAY 2013
JULY 2013
JULY 2013
Intuitive Surgical’s robot surgeons encounter human lawyersBloomberg BusinessweekMARCH 2013
Mass. cautions hospitals about robotic surgeryThe Boston GlobeMARCH 2013
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Intuitive SurgicalBusinessWireAPRIL 2013
Robotic Surgery: More Complications, Higher Expense for Some ConditionsColumbia University Medical CenterOCTOBER 2014
FDA: Intuitive Surgical Failed to Report WarningCNBCJUNE 2013
FDA Warning LetterFDAJULY 2013
OB-GYNs told robot hysterectomy not best optionFox NewsMARCH 2013
Local News Hype Of Robotic Surgery Doesn’t Match Many Hysterectomy Patients’ ExperiencesHealthNewsReview.orgJULY 2018
Study: Robotic Surgery More Costly For Ovarian ProblemsKaiser Health NewsOCTOBER 2014
Robot-surgery firm from Sunnyvale facing lawsuits, reports of death and injuryThe Mercury NewsOCTOBER 2017
Medical boon or bust? Suits raise allegations of defects in da Vinci robot
Surgical robot use criticized in new report
Modern HealthcareMAY 2013
Robot hot among surgeons but FDA taking a new look
Robotic surgery is high-tech ‘tour de force’ – but is it safe?
NBC NewsAPRIL 2013
JUNE 2013
The Bleeding EdgeNetflix DocumentaryJULY 2018
Salesmen in the Surgical Suite
New concerns on robotic surgeries
Robotic Surgery Report Card
The New York TimesMARCH 2013
Are hospital claims about the robotic approach to gynecologic surgery based on reliable data, or mostly hype?
Are robotic surgery complications underreported?
OBG ManagementNOVEMBER 2012
Robot maker sued over hysterectomy patient’s deathOutpatient Surgery MagazineAPRIL 2012
Robot-assisted Hysterectomies booming, but better?
FDA takes fresh look at robotic surgery
APRIL 2013
Robot-Assisted Surgery Costs More But May Not Be BetterThe Wall Street JournalOCTOBER 2017