GO
Loading...

Gynecologists Urge Caution on Robotic Hysterectomies

Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 | 4:16 PM ET
Getty Images

For Intuitive Surgical, hysterectomies have been a notable area of growth, rising 26 percent last year.

But now the president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is urging caution.

In a strongly worded statement on Thursday, James Breeden said:

"Many women today are hearing about the claimed advantages of robotic surgery for hysterectomy, thanks to widespread marketing and advertising. Robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach for hysterectomy. Nor is it the most cost-efficient. It is important to separate the marketing hype from the reality when considering the best surgical approach for hysterectomies."

(Read More: Is There a Doctor in the House? Probably Not)

College of GYN Comments on Robotic Surgery
A close look at Intuitive Surgical after a statement on robotic surgery from ACOG president James T. Breeden, MD, with CNBC's Herb Greenberg.

Breeden never mentioned Intuitive by name, but the company is generally regarded as the only player in robotic surgery and currently owns the robotic hysterectomy market.

Among his other statements:

•Expertise with robotic hysterectomy is limited and varies widely among both hospitals and surgeons.

•There is no good data proving that robotic hysterectomy is even as good as—let alone better—than existing, and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives.

•Aggressive direct to consumer marketing of the latest medical technologies may mislead the public into believe they are the best choice.

Intuitive Surgical responded with a statement:

"We agree that patients need factual information about all of their treatment options and the evidence supports that robotic surgery has dramatically decreased the number of open hysterectomies in the US ... It is well documented in the clinical literature that a minimally invasive procedure compared to open is better for patients and saves cost for the entire health care system. Robotic surgery is a technological advance that is enabling more women to receive minimally invasive surgery."

(Read More: Applying for Obamacare Health Insurance Not Easy)

An analyst at Merrill Lynch, defending Intuitive, noted that the group's "basic message is no different" from recent statements several groups, including a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which said clinical results of robotic versus non-robotic "benign" hysterectomies aren't much different.

"We would say," the analyst added, "the only difference is that this statement is a little more aggressive in terms of criticizing the company itself and their marketing practices..."

He went on to say he was surprised to say the stock "is selling off so much."

My take: This is a significant statement.

  Price   Change %Change
ISRG
---

Featured

  • Andrea Day

    Andrea Day covers Crime & Punishment for CNBC. She and her team have reported nearly $1 billion in fraud this year.

Madoff Trustee: Investigations Inc

Crime & Punishment: Inside the SEC

  • The Treasury estimates that $21 billion in potentially fraudulent refunds due to identity theft could be issued in the next five years.

  • CNBC's Gary Kaminsky takes a look at the massive amount of digital data that pours into the SEC's enforcement division, which is in charge of investigating violations of securities laws.

  • CNBC's Gary Kaminsky spent time with SEC's Bruce Karpati to learn more about his division, which investigates allegations of fraud committed by investment advisers. Kaminsky reports that if you're breaking the law, the agency will find you.

Selling the American Dream

Investigations Inc.: Cyber Espionage

  • When a person enters information on a website, like an email or credit card, it gets stored in that company’s data base. Those web-based forms are a simple tool for users, but they are also another way hackers can exploit a company’s system. Instead of inputting a name into the website, cyber spies can put in a specially crafted text that may cause the database to execute the code instead of simply storing it, Alperovitch said. The result is a “malicious takeover of the system,” he said.

    By attacking business computer networks, hackers are accessing company secrets and confidential strategies and creating huge losses for the overall economy.

  • China is working feverishly to counteract its slowest GDP growth in recent years, and one of the ways it’s doing so, say U.S. officials, is through the theft of American corporate secrets.

  • US businesses are enduring an unprecedented onslaught of cyber invasions from foreign governments, organized crime syndicates, and hacker collectives, all seeking to steal information and disrupt services, cybersecurity experts say.