If you are preparing to undergo gynecological surgery in New York, your doctor may suggest the use of a computer-assisted surgical system. According to the FDA, although this technology is often called robotically-assisted surgery, the controls are all manipulated by surgeons, and no part of the process is performed directly by the computer. This federal agency notes that the machines themselves are considered safe.
The FDA does not monitor or oversee any kind of medical trainings, including those related to this type of equipment. It further notes that training and proper use are critical to the successful outcome of your procedure. Your health care facility, the manufacturer of the device and the physicians themselves are responsible for the level of training that is undertaken before implementation. The FDA does have a program through MedWatch where you may report an adverse medical event if a problem arises due to the procedure. There have been an increasing number of these regarding mechanical issues and breakage of device components.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the benefits and risks of this technology are not currently known. That association states that a lack of scientific studies, regulation and reporting procedures makes it impossible to determine whether the use of such a device is beneficial or cost-effective.
Before you consent to the surgery, the Committee on Gynecologic Practice for the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons recommends that you ask the surgeon about the training and experience that he or she has with the specific device that will be used. The committee also states that it is important to request detailed information about the comparability of the risks and benefits of traditional approaches versus that of the computer system in question. This information about computer-assisted surgery is intended only to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.