Robotic distal pancreatectomy: Cost effective?

Joshua A. Waters, David F. Canal, Eric A. Wiebke, Ryan P. Dumas, Joal D. Beane, Juan R. Aguilar-Saavedra, Chad G. Ball, Michael G. House, Nicholas J. Zyromski, Attila Nakeeb, Henry A. Pitt, Keith D. Lillemoe, C. Max Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Background: Minimally invasive techniques and even robotics in pancreaticobiliary surgery are being used increasingly. Cost-effectiveness is a practical burden associated with the introduction of surgical innovation. This study compares the costs and the outcomes of open, laparoscopic, and robotic distal pancreatectomies. We hypothesized that robotic distal pancreatectomy is cost-effective. Methods: Between August 2008 and August 2009, 77 distal pancreatectomies were performed at a single academic medical center. A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on demographics, short-term outcomes, and direct cost was performed. Results: Thirty-two open distal pancreatectomies, 28 laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies, and 17 robotic distal pancreatectomies were performed. Age, American Society of Anesthesia preoperative risk score, and specimen length were similar. Indications for laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies and robotic distal pancreatectomies included more cystic neoplasms (49%) and fewer malignancies (29%) versus open distal pancreatectomies (16% and 47%). Spleen preservation occurred in 65% robotic distal pancreatectomies versus 12% and 29% in open distal pancreatectomies and laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies (P < .05). The operative time averaged 298 minutes in robotic distal pancreatectomies versus 245 and 222 minutes in open distal pancreatectomies and laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies (P < .05). Blood loss and morbidity were similar with no mortality. The length of stay was 4 days in robotic distal pancreatectomies versus 8 and 6 in open distal pancreatectomies and laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies (P < .05). The total cost was $10,588 in robotic distal pancreatectomies versus $16,059 and $12,986 in open distal pancreatectomies and laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies. Conclusion: These data suggest direct hospital costs are comparable among all groups. They suggest a shorter length of stay in robotic versus laparoscopic or open approaches. Finally, spleen and vessel preservation rates may improve with a robotic approach at the expense of increased operative time. In summary, robotic distal pancreatectomy is safe and cost effective in selected cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-823
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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