Sources:  Bloomberg News, US Food & Drug Administration

DaVinciTHEY have been hailed as the latest state of the art technology and their manufacturer has given them a name worthy of a medical rennaissance -the Da Vinci.  But are robotic surgeries actually safer than those performed directly by the hand of a surgeon?

Robot systems (da vinci) made by Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) have been linked with incident reports of 70 deaths sent to U.S. regulators since 2009, according to a review by Bloomberg News.   Intuitive, based in Sunnyvale, California, dominates the robot-surgery field. It’s the only company whose system is cleared in the U.S. for soft tissue procedures that include general surgery, prostate operations and gynecological surgery, according to a company spokeswoman.

The da vinci robotic systems consist of  a video-game style console with foot pedals and hand controls attached to a HD display and mechanical arms equipped with tools -all guided by a 3-D camera.  They are priced at $1.5 million each and have helped make Intuitive one of the hottest stocks in health care, growing 61 percent since the end of February 2010 to a market value of $21.7 billion. The number of U.S. procedures done with the robots has grown to about 367,000 in 2012, according to a company filing.

More than half of last year’s total involved gynecological treatments including delicate ureteral repairs. The reported benefits include better visualization, robot arms that can precisely manipulate small areas inside the body, and improved ergonomics to reduce surgeon fatigue.

According to a Bloomberg review of adverse incident reports sent to the  US Food and Drug Administration since 2009 reportedly shows an increase in adverse incidents during robotic surgery. Injury reports involving the procedures jumped to at least 115 in 2012 from 24 in 2009, while deaths rose to 30 from 11. Intuitive Surgical remains confident the robots are “extremely safe,” according to Myriam Curet, the company’s chief medical adviser. An “extraordinarily small” percentage of deaths and injuries “hasn’t grown” over time, Curet reportedly stated.

The Lewis Law Firm handles cases of physician malpractice and hospital malpractice causing injury and death in Philadelphia and New Jersey . If you or a loved one were the vitim of wrong-site or wrong surgery, contact the Lewis Law Firm for a FREE consultation today.