HOUSTON, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. surgeons say using a robot may lower the risk of a rare but serious complication of weight-loss surgery.
The five-year study, published in the Journal of Robotic Surgery, compared 605 patients undergoing laparoscopic gastric bypass without and with robotic assistance. Six in the first group experienced a gastrointestinal leak while none in the robot group did.
"While robotic surgery may take slightly longer and be more costly to use than traditional laparoscopy, we believe that the improved outcome and decreased leak rates may offset the cost to some extent," study senior author Dr. Erik Wilson of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston said in a statement.
Symptoms of a gastrointestinal leak which may occur when the small intestine is reconnected to a small pouch created in the stomach can include pain, shortness of breath, fever, nausea, vomiting and -- rarely -- death. In this study, there were no deaths in either group, and the rate for all complications was slightly lower than those previously reported in journals.
Lead author Dr. Brad Snyder says the robot allows for more precise suturing.
"The angles encountered during a laparoscopic gastric bypass are sometimes awkward and can make the surgical technique challenging," he says. "With the robot, this additional challenge is minimized."