While most outcomes are similar between robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery for sleeve gastrectomy, the robotic approach carried a greater risk of organ space infection, according to the findings from a large clinical trial of more than 100,000 patients.

The study’s authors analyzed 107,726 sleeve gastrectomy operations in the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program data registry (MBSAQIP), 7,385 of which were robotic sleeve gastrectomy (RSG). Peter William Lundberg, MD, and his coauthors of St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem, Pa., evaluated the safety of RSG vs. laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG). The study was the first and largest comparing the two approaches to sleeve gastrectomy, the researchers noted.

“According to the MBSAQIP database, the robotic approach demonstrates a significantly higher rate of organ space infection while trending toward a lower rate of bleeding and 30-day reoperation and intervention,” Dr. Lundberg and his coauthors said.

Overall mortality was 0.07% in both groups (P = .49). The overall rates of significant adverse events were similar in both groups – 1.3% for LSG and 1.1% for RSG (P = .14) – as were bleeding rates – 0.5% and 0.4% (P = .003), respectively. The investigators characterized the slightly lower rates for RSG as “insignificant.”

RSG, however, had three times the rate of organ space infection than did the laparoscopic approach, 0.3% vs. 0.1% (P = .79). “Considering the enthusiasm with which robotics has been adopted by some bariatric surgeons, this is a sobering finding,” Dr. Lundberg noted.

The study determined that the use of staple-line reinforcement (SLR) alone significantly reduced the rate of bleeding regardless of approach by 31% on average (P = .0005). “This risk reduction was enhanced when SLR was combined with oversewing of the staple line,” Dr. Lundberg and his colleagues noted – an average reduction of 42% (P = .0009).

RSG took longer on average, 89 minutes vs. 63 minutes (P less than .0001), and the average length of stay was almost identical, 1.7 for RSG vs. 1.6 days for LSG. Reoperation rates within 30 days were also similar: 0.7% for RSG vs. 0.8% for LSG (P = .003).

“As surgeons continue to adopt and develop new technology, ongoing monitoring and reporting of safety and outcomes data are advised to maintain the high standards for outcomes in bariatric surgery,” Dr. Lundberg and his coauthors said.

The study researchers had no financial conflicts.

SOURCE: Lundberg PW et al. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2018 Oct 25. doi:10.1016/j.soard.2018.10.015.