However, the company line on the DaVinci’s effectiveness is far from the last word. According to a large study of Medicare patients, robotic prostate surgery led to fewer in-hospital complications, but had worse results for impotence and incontinence (I know which one of those bullets I’d choose to take, just saying). Costing a cool $1.7 million, plus a $100,000+ annual service fee, inconclusive results are a bit hard to stomach. There are two reasons why this ostensibly advanced surgical method can lead to mixed results. First, the DaVinci provides no tactile feedback. Doctors have to learn to use the visual environment for clues they would otherwise get by feel. Of course, with the development of haptic feedback, this flaw might be remedied soon.
I’m sure all those practice patients feel really great about helping the doctors and the company master the learning curve of doing real surgery. It’s kinda telling that the article (and other articles) is pushing this gadget as the unstoppable future of medicine, rather than just another dead end that didn’t have quite the tech needed to do a proper job. And that hospitals are using it as a marketing tool to get patients to have their surgery there. “New! Improved! Worse results for you! Lower treatment costs for us!”