Found @ Philadelphia Inquirer
Is it time to curb the robotic surgery enthusiasm?
LINDSEY TANNER , The Associated Press
Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 10:00 AM
The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci used in nearly 400,000 surgeries nationwide last year , triple the number just four years earlier.
But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it and the high cost of using the robotic system....
But the Food and Drug Administration is looking into a spike in reported problems during robotic surgeries. Earlier this year, the FDA began a survey of surgeons using the robotic system. The agency conducts such surveys of devices routinely, but FDA spokeswoman Synim Rivers said the reason for it now "is the increase in number of reports received" about da Vinci.
Reports filed since early last year include at least five deaths.
Whether there truly are more problems recently is uncertain. Rivers said she couldn't quantify the increase and that it may simply reflect more awareness among doctors and hospitals about the need to report problems. Doctors aren't required to report such things; device makers and hospitals are.
It could also reflect wider use. Last year there were 367,000 robot surgeries versus 114,000 in 2008, according to da Vinci's maker, Intuitive Surgical Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif....