Economic evaluation of da Vinci-assisted robotic surgery: a systematic review

Surg Endosc. 2012 Mar;26(3):598-606. doi: 10.1007/s00464-011-1936-2. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Background: Health technology assessment (HTA) is frequently used when a new and expensive technology is being introduced into clinical practice. This certainly is the case with the da Vinci surgical robot, with costs ranging from $1 to $2.5 million for each unit. This systematic review documents major variability in the reported cost evaluation studies of da Vinci robot-assisted operations compared with those performed by the direct manual laparoscopic approach.

Methods: Published studies in the English language related to the period 2000-2010 were searched using economic and clinical electronic databases.

Results: All 11 reports included some form of cost analysis, which made it possible for the authors to extract information on certain specific economic outcomes: operating room time, hospital stay, and total costs. With the exception of two studies, the reported operating room time was higher with the robotic approach than with manual laparoscopic surgery, and the hospital stay was the same for the two techniques. Robotic surgery is significantly more expensive if the purchase and maintenance costs of the robot system are included in the total costs. Only 3 of the 11 publications included these costs.

Conclusions: The disadvantage of robotic surgery is its higher costs related to purchase and maintenance of technology and its longer operating room time. However, emerging evidence shows that operating room time decreases with experience using the robot. From the HTA viewpoint, the result of this review is that the jury still is out on the HTA of da Vinci-assisted robotic surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / economics*
  • Robotics / economics*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / economics