Background: Robotic groin hernia repair (r-TAPP) is demonstrating rapid adoption in the US. Barriers in Europe include: low availability of robotic systems to general surgeons, cost of robotic instruments, and the perception of longer operative time.
Methods: Patients undergoing r-TAPP in our start-up period were prospectively entered in the EuraHS database and compared to laparoscopic TAPP (l-TAPP) performed by the same surgeon within the context of two other prospective studies. Operations were performed with the daVinci Xi robot and the primary endpoint was skin-to-skin operative time.
Results: Following proctoring in September 2016 by US surgeons, 50 r-TAPP (34 unilateral and 16 bilateral) procedures have been performed up to January 2017. Mean operative time for unilateral r-TAPP was 54 min, with a decrease from 63 min for the first tertile to 44 min for the third tertile. For unilateral l-TAPP, the mean operative time was 45 min. Mean operative time for bilateral r-TAPP was 78 min, with a decrease from 90 min for the first half to 68 min for the second half. For bilateral l-TAPP, the mean operative time was 61 min. There were no intraoperative complications and no conversions to conventional laparoscopy or open surgery. The operation was performed as an outpatient in 67% of cases. Urinary retention requiring urinary catheterization was the only early postoperative complication noted in 5 patients (10.2%). At 4 week follow-up, 7 patients (14.3%) had an asymptomatic seroma, but no other complications were seen.
Conclusion: Robotic TAPP was associated with a rapid reduction in operative time during our learning curve and afterwards the operative time to perform a robotic TAPP equals the operative time to perform a laparoscopic TAPP, both for unilateral and for bilateral groin hernia repairs. No complications related to the introduction of robotic-assisted laparoscopic groin hernia repair were observed.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02975401.
Keywords: Groin hernia; Inguinal hernia; Laparoscopy; Learning curve; Operative time; Robotic surgery.