Background and Purpose: Robot-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy (RALPN) is supplanting traditional laparoscopic partial nephrectomy (LPN) as the technique of choice for minimally invasive nephron-sparing surgery. This evolution has resulted from potential clinical benefits, as well as proliferation of robotic systems and patient demand for robot-assisted surgery. We sought to quantify the costs associated with the use of robotics for minimally invasive partial nephrectomy. Methods: A cost analysis was performed for 20 consecutive robot-assisted partial nephrectomy (RPN) and LPN patients at our institution from 2009 to 2010. Data included actual perioperative and hospitalization costs as well as professional fees. Capital costs were estimated using purchase costs and amortization of two robotic systems from 2001 to 2009, as well as maintenance contract costs. The estimated cost/case was obtained using total robotic surgical volume during this period. Total estimated costs were compared between groups. A separate analysis was performed assuming "ideal" robotic utilization during a comparable period. Results: RALPN had a cost premium of +$1066/case compared with LPN, assuming actual robot utilization from 2001 to 2009. Assuming "ideal" utilization during a comparable period, this premium decreased to +$334; capital costs per case decreased from $1907 to $1175. Tumor size, operative time, and length of stay were comparable between groups. Conclusions: RALPN is associated with a small to moderate cost premium depending on assumptions regarding robotic surgical volume. Saturated utilization of robotic systems decreases attributable capital costs and makes comparison with laparoscopy more favorable. Purported clinical benefits of RPN (eg, decreased warm ischemia time, increased utilization of nephron-sparing surgery) need further study, because these may have cost implications.
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