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Robot bladder cancer surgery, fewer deaths

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LOS ANGELES, April 3 (UPI) -- Robotic surgery resulted in fewer deaths and in-patient complications than open surgery for bladder cancer, but it was costlier, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Jim Hu of the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, said previous research involving robotic-assisted surgery has come from single medical centers and did not include direct comparisons with traditional surgery.

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"While we expected to see greater expenses associated with the robotic procedure for bladder cancer, we were surprised to see the significant reduction in deaths and complications, particularly this early in its adoption," Hu said in a statement. "This is one of the first national population-based studies comparing robotic and traditional surgery outcomes for bladder cancer."

Hu and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Georgetown University Hospital used a national government database of hospital in-patient information that includes data from 1,050 hospitals in 44 states. The researchers used information from 2009, the most recent date for which data were available on radical cystectomy for bladder cancer.

The team looked at 1,444 traditional open surgeries and 224 robotic-assisted laparoscopic procedures and found robotic-assisted surgeries accounted for 13 percent of all radical cystectomies -- bladder removal -- in 2009.

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The researchers found patients who underwent robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery experienced fewer in-patient complications than those who had the traditional open procedure -- 49.1 percent versus 63.8 percent.

The study was published online in the journal European Urology.

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