Robotic-assisted surgery for gynecologic procedures produces fewer complications, according to doctors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

In two studies, the concluded: “Robot-assisted endometrial cancer staging, including hysterectomy with pelvic and paraaortic lymphadenectomy, is feasible and safe and yields higher lymph node counts, lower blood loss, and shorter hospital stays than open and laparoscopic staging.”

The :

• “Robot-assisted endometrial cancer staging is feasible and yields superior lymph node counts, lower blood loss, and shorter hospital stay than open or laparoscopic staging.

• “Complication rates of robotically assisted endometrial cancer staging are low, superior to those of laparotomy, and possibly superior to those of laparoscopy.

• “Robotics may become the surgical approach of choice in women with higher body mass indexes to maximize surgical outcomes and reduce morbidity”

The doctors’ findings were published in the October 2008 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The results were based on results in the largest groups of patients studied to date, according to the doctors. The study focused on two gynecologic procedures.

North Carolina has been the site of some of the most pioneering use of robotic surgery to date, led by East Carolina University which used a robotic system called da Vinci for heart surgery in 2001.

The UNC researchfocused on radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer and endometrial cancer (cancer in the uterus) staging and included use of a da Vinci Surgical System.

“The first step when introducing new technology is to show outcomes that are at least equivalent to those from the current gold standard procedure,” said John Boggess, an MD and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC. “In two studies with significant numbers of patients, we not only show robotics is equivalent to open surgery, but we actually show improvement.”

The results for the robotic surgery were compared to both traditional surgery and laparoscopy, which is a minimally invasive method of surgery. Results for 103 patients undergoing endometrial cancer staging and 51 patients who had a radical hysterectomy were studied.

Robotic-assisted methods also were found to be at least equal to traditional forms of surgery in terms of proficiency, the doctors said.

“The robot doesn’t eliminate human error, but it reduces it by providing a better set of tools,” Boggess said.

Other doctors involved in the study were Paola Gehrig., Leigh Cantrell, Aaron Shafer and Wesley Fowler.