Resource implications of robotic thoracic surgery: what are the wider issues?
The benefits of minimally invasive thoracic surgery are well documented when compared to the use of standard thoracotomy. Much controversy exists, however, regarding the resource implications when using robot-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS), especially when compared to video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). Much of the costs attributed to a particular approach center around the frequency and severity of the complications that may arise. Little exists in the literature to appropriately compare and contrast the complication rate following either of the minimally invasive approaches. There is a suggestion that many conventional open surgeons are more readily persuaded to adopt a minimally invasive approach through the use of the robotic platform, therefore reducing the complication-related costs of standard thoracotomy by an increase in minimally invasive resection rates. Further gains may be made in the ability to perform more complex minimally invasive procedures via a RATS approach without recourse to open conversion when compared to VATS. As opportunities and competition increase in the commercial market place, it is reasonable to assume costs will fall and further savings will be made.