Does the Use of a Robot Decrease the Complication Rate Adherent to Radical Cystectomy? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Studies Comparing Open with Robotic Counterparts

J Endourol. 2019 Dec;33(12):971-984. doi: 10.1089/end.2019.0226. Epub 2019 Jul 24.


Introduction: Radical cystectomy (RC) is the mainstay of treatment for muscle-invasive bladder cancer. In 2003, the first robot-assisted radical cystectomy (RARC) was performed and since then many studies, mainly observational, were conducted to compare robotic and open methods. This study aims to assess perioperative outcomes between the two methods based on pooled data from existing literature. Methods: A literature search of articles in English and French languages was performed in three databases (Medline, Embase, and Cochrane) until 30th of June 2018, as well as in urology conference programs and reference lists of included studies. The study protocol was registered at PROSPERO (CRD42018103063). Terms such as "robotic," "open," and "radical cystectomy" and synonyms were used for the searching algorithm. The primary outcome was the number of minor and major postoperative complications (Clavien grading system). Risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane tool and Newcastle-Ottawa scale. Comparison of continuous outcomes was performed with weighted mean differences, while for dichotomous outcomes, odds ratios (ORs) were used. Review Manager 5.3 was used. Results: Fifty-four studies (5 randomized trials and 49 observational) were eligible, including 29,697 patients (6500 in the RARC group and 23,197 in the open radical cystectomy group). Minor complications (grade 1-2) in pooled data of 29 studies were fewer in the RARC group (OR = 0.54, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.38-0.76, p < 0.001), a difference persisting after sensitivity analysis for 30 and 90 days. Major complications (grade 3-5) in 31 studies were fewer in the RARC group (OR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.65-0.94, p = 0.009), but this difference disappeared in the 30-day subanalysis. RARC was associated with lower blood transfusion rates (p < 0.001), lower length of stay (p < 0.001), faster return to regular diet (p < 0.001), and lower postoperative mortality rates (p < 0.001), but longer operating time. Conclusions: RARC appears to be associated with fewer complications and favoring perioperative outcomes in comparison with the open method. Due to the observational nature of most studies, larger randomized trials are needed to confirm these findings.

Keywords: complications; meta-analysis; open; radical cystectomy; robotic.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Conversion to Open Surgery*
  • Cystectomy*
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Operative Time
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / surgery*