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In Surgery ; h5-index 54.0

BACKGROUND : Robotic technology is increasingly utilized despite increased costs compared with laparoscopic procedures. As the robot is a fixed, indirect cost, we hypothesized increased volume of robotic procedures will decrease operative costs per patient. The model of same-day, unilateral, primary inguinal hernia surgery in males was chosen.

METHODS : The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration database was queried for inguinal hernia repairs from 2015 to 2020. Inflation adjusted total and operative costs per patient were collected. Cost-over-time and change in cost-over-time were calculated for open, laparoscopic, and robotic cases. Linear regression using cost as the dependent variable generated predictive parameters.

RESULTS : In the study, 36,393 cases (19,364 open, 12,322 laparoscopic, 4,707 robotic) among 86 hospitals were included. In addition, 18 hospitals were "high volume," defined as total robotic inguinal hernia volume of >100 (range, 107-368) during the study period, and included 8,604 cases (3,915 open, 1,786 laparoscopic, 2,903 robotic). Compared with laparoscopic, total robotic cost and cost over time were 1.22- (P < .001) and 1.5-fold higher (P < .002). The change in cost-over-time was increased significantly in robotic cases: 358, 420, 548, 691, and 1,542 cost-over-time for 2015 to 2020, respectively. Positive contributors to total hospital robotic costs were total robotic inguinal hernia volume (17.3), total laparoscopic inguinal hernia volume (12.6), and number of hospital beds (1.9). Total open inguinal hernia volume was a negative contributor (-10).

CONCLUSION : We conclude, in the short term, robotic surgical costs are not behaving as traditional fixed costs in outpatient, unilateral inguinal hernia surgeries. Hospital methodology for cost assignment and increased robotic fixed costs such as purchase of additional instruments may explain these results.

Read Meagan D, Janjua Haroon, Rogers Michael P, Kuo Paul C