Importance: Use of robotic surgery has increased in urological practice over the last decade. However, the use, outcomes, and costs of robotic nephrectomy are unknown.
Objectives: To examine the trend in use of robotic-assisted operations for radical nephrectomy in the United States and to compare the perioperative outcomes and costs with laparoscopic radical nephrectomy.
Design, setting, and participants: This retrospective cohort study used the Premier Healthcare database to evaluate outcomes of patients who had undergone robotic-assisted or laparoscopic radical nephrectomy for renal mass at 416 US hospitals between January 2003 and September 2015. Multivariable regression modeling was used to assess outcomes.
Exposures: Robotic-assisted vs laparoscopic radical nephrectomy.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome of the study was the trend in use of robotic-assisted radical nephrectomy. The secondary outcomes were perioperative complications, based on the Clavien classification system, and defined as any complication (Clavien grades 1-5) or major complications (Clavien grades 3-5, for which grade 5 results in death); resource use (operating time, blood transfusion, length of hospital stay); and direct hospital cost.
Results: Among 23 753 patients included in the study (mean age, 61.4 years; men, 13 792 [58.1%]), 18 573 underwent laparoscopic radical nephrectomy and 5180 underwent robotic-assisted radical nephrectomy. Use of robotic-assisted surgery increased from 1.5% (39 of 2676 radical nephrectomy procedures in 2003) to 27.0% (862 of 3194 radical nephrectomy procedures) in 2015 (P for trend <.001). In the weighted-adjusted analysis, there were no significant differences between robotic-assisted and laparoscopic radical nephrectomy in the incidence of any (Clavien grades 1-5) postoperative complications (adjusted rates, 22.2% vs 23.4%, difference, -1.2%; 95% CI, -5.4 to 3.0%) or major (Clavien grades 3-5) complications (adjusted rates, 3.5% vs 3.8%, difference, -0.3%; 95% CI, -1.0% to 0.5%). The rate of prolonged operating time (>4 hours) for patients undergoing the robotic-assisted procedure was higher than for patients receiving the laparoscopic procedure in the adjusted analysis (46.3% vs 25.8%; risk difference, 20.5%; 95% CI, 14.2% to 26.8%). Robotic-assisted radical nephrectomy was associated with higher mean 90-day direct hospital costs ($19 530 vs $16 851; difference, $2678; 95% CI, $838 to $4519), mainly accounted for operating room ($7217 vs $5378; difference, $1839; 95% CI, $1050 to $2628) and supply costs ($4876 vs $3891; difference, $985; 95% CI, $473 to $1498).
Conclusions and relevance: Among patients undergoing radical nephrectomy for renal mass between 2003 and 2015, the use of robotic-assisted surgery increased substantially. The use of robotic-assistance was not associated with increased risk of any or major complications but was associated with prolonged operating time and higher hospital costs compared with laparoscopic surgery.