Adopt or Abandon? Surgeon-Specific Trends in Robotic Bariatric Surgery Utilization Between 2010 and 2019

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Journal of laparoendoscopic & advanced surgical techniques. Part A


Background: It is unknown if surgeons are more likely to adopt or abandon robotic techniques given that bariatric procedures are already performed by surgeons with advanced laparoscopic skills.

Methods: We used a statewide bariatric-specific data registry to evaluate surgeon-specific volumes of robotic bariatric cases between 2010 and 2019. Operative volume, procedure type, and patient characteristics were compared between the highest utilizers of robotic bariatric procedures (adopters) and surgeons who stopped performing robotic cases, despite demonstrating prior use (abandoners).

Results: A total of 44 surgeons performed 3149 robotic bariatric procedures in Michigan between 2010 and 2019. Robotic utilization peaked in 2019, representing 7.24% of all bariatric cases. We identified 7 surgeons (16%) who performed 95% of the total number of robotic cases (adopters) and 12 surgeons (27%) who stopped performing bariatric cases during the study period (abandoners). Adopters performed a higher proportion of gastric bypass both robotically (22.9% versus 3.1%, P < .001) and laparoscopically (27.5% versus 15.1%, P < .001), when compared with abandoners. Surgeon experience (no. of years in practice), type of practice (teaching versus nonteaching hospital), and patient populations were similar between groups.

Conclusions: Robotic bariatric utilization increased during the study period. The majority of robotic cases were performed by a small number of surgeons who were more likely to perform more complex cases such as gastric bypass in their own practice. Robotic adoption may be influenced by surgeon-specific preferences based upon procedure-specific volumes and may play a greater role in performing more complex surgical procedures in the future.

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ePub ahead of print