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FDA: Beware Letting Robots Operate on You

'Survival benefits to patients when compared to traditional surgery have not been established'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2019 1:05 PM CST
Gather lots of info before agreeing to this type of surgery, the FDA advises.   (Getty Images/ArisSu)

(Newser) – On the plus side: Operations performed using minimally invasive robotic devices can help keep blood loss, pain, and infections to a minimum, reduce scarring, and shorten recovery times. On the minus side, per the Food and Drug Administration: Using these devices for mastectomies and other surgeries for cancers hasn't yet been proven to be safe or effective, CNN reports. Early testing suggests such devices may even be tied to lower long-term survival rates for certain cancers. "The survival benefits to patients when compared to traditional surgery have not been established," says the FDA warning issued Thursday.

Forbes notes that's the FDA's more diplomatic way of saying, "We still don't really know what the bleep may happen." Although the FDA statement doesn't say outright not to have this type of increasingly popular surgery if you're a cancer patient, it advises patients and their doctors to fully explore all "benefits, risks, and alternatives to robotically assisted surgical procedures and consider this information to make informed treatment decisions." (The FDA has been keeping tabs on operating robots for some time.)

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