Variation in the Utilization of Robotic Surgical Operations

Abstract [from journal]

The appropriate use of the robot in surgery continues to evolve. Robotic operations (RO) are particularly advantageous for deep pelvic and retroperitoneal procedures, but the implementation of RO is unknown. We aimed to examine regional variation for the most commonly performed RO in general, gynecologic, and urologic surgery. A three-state inpatient database from 2008 to 2011 was used. Nine common robotic inpatient general, gynecologic and urologic surgery procedures were analyzed. States were divided into hospital service areas (HSAs). The percentage of RO was calculated for each operation. Hospital service areas that had < 50% or > 150% of the RO average were outliers. Hospital service areas were compared based on demographics, patterns of adoption, variation in usage, and association with population, physician and hospital density. Hysterectomies were the procedure that was performed most often robotically. Over 50% of radical prostatectomies were performed robotically. Procedures with the highest rate of RO performance were performed with the least variation. Characteristics that were significantly correlated with RO included provider and hospital density. Variation in the utilization of RO is common and differs by operation. Physician density impacts access to care and is associated with the variation in use of RO depending on procedure type. Further research is needed to understand the causes of variation and adoption of RO.