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Study Reveals New Risks of Robotic Surgery

While robotic surgery certainly has some advantages over its human counterpart, a new study confirms that it also has unforeseen risks. As San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, we are still not ready to dismiss our lingering questions about its safety.

The study, published in the Journal of Urology, examined nerve injury associated with patient positioning during robotic surgery. As Reuters explains, patients undergoing robotic surgery must be placed with their head by the floor and their feet in the air in order to give the surgeon better traction.

The study found that one in 15 people undergoing robot-assisted prostate, kidney or bladder surgery suffers a nerve injury. Symptoms included weakness, numbness or immobility in the hands or feet. While more than 50 percent of the patients recovered within a month, five of the injuries persisted for more than six months.

As for why the injuries occur, patients in the tilted position are prone to sliding down the operating table. “When somebody is in that position, there’s a chance they could slide down – it’s like a big ramp,” said lead author Dr. Tracey Krupski, from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville.

“When you slide, you then could be pulling, or having the drag on some of the nerves. It’s like a constant pulling on the muscle,” she added.

While the researchers don’t believe robotic surgeries should be halted over their findings, they do state that it is important for doctors to fully disclose the risk of nerve injury to their patients prior to surgery.

If you or someone you love has suffered from amedical error, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.