Direct medical costs of robotic sleeve gastrectomy compared to laparoscopic approach in a single academic center

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Journal of robotic surgery


BACKGROUND: The use of the robotic platform in bariatric surgery remains controversial because of lack of level I evidence to support its superiority compared to the laparoscopic approach and because of cost concerns. Recently, an extended use program (EUP) for robotic instruments was also introduced at our institution to help reduce the associated direct medical costs of robotic surgery. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the direct medical costs of a robotic sleeve gastrectomy (R-SG) and compare it to a standard laparoscopic approach (L-SG). SETTING: Academic, tertiary care center. METHODS: The analysis included the last 50 R-SG performed at our institution between June 1st 2019 and October 31st 2020. Those cases were compared to the L-SG cases (29 cases) performed in the same time period. All revisions or conversions were then excluded which resulted in a total of 74 primary SG (R-SG = 45 and L-SG = 29). Direct medical costs included operating room cost, instrument cost, miscellaneous cost, and cost of hospital stay. Direct cost data was generated using the StrataJazz reporting module, which is fed daily from EPIC, our electronic health record system. Patients who underwent a primary SG or a primary SG with a concomitant Paraesophageal Hernia Repair (PEH) were analyzed separately using Mann-Whitney rank sum tests and Student's t tests. An additional analysis and subanalysis of the groups was also performed after applying the potential savings of the Extended Use Program (EUP). RESULTS: Overall, the direct medical cost of R-SG was comparable to L-SG ($6330.77 vs $6804.12 respectively, p = 0.07). The direct medical cost of patients undergoing SG alone without PEH was significantly lower in the R-group compared to the L-group ($5927.08 vs $6508.01, respectively, p = 0.04). When applying the EUP savings to our data, the predicted direct medical cost of R-SG becomes significantly lower than L-SG ($6145.77 vs $6804.12 respectively, p = 0.01). CONCLUSION: At our academic medical center, we found no difference in direct medical costs between R-SG and L-SG. With the application of the EUP, direct medical costs of R-SG can be significantly lowered compared to L-SG. It is important to consider that cost data are largely dependent upon the academic medical center of interest, and surgeons need to collect their own cost data to evaluate whether robotic surgery is feasible at their institution.

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