IMPORTANCE As robotic-assisted cardiac surgical procedures increase nationwide, surgeons need to be educated on the safety of the new modality compared with that of open technique. OBJECTIVE To compare complications, length of stay (LOS), actual cost, and mortality between nonrobotic and robotic-assisted cardiac surgical procedures. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Weighted data on cardiac patients who had undergone operations involving the valves or septa and vessels, as well as other heart and pericardium procedures, from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2011, were obtained from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample via the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Propensity score matching was used to match each robotic-assisted case to 2 nonrobotic cases on 14 characteristics. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Complications, median LOS, actual cost, and mortality. RESULTS Exploratory analysis found a total of 1 374 653 cardiac cases (1 369 454 [99.6%] nonrobotic and 5199 [0.4%] robotic-assisted cases). After propensity score matching, there were 10 331 (66.5%) nonrobotic cases and 5199 (33.5%) robotic-assisted cases. Cardiac operations included 1630 (10.5%) involving the valves or septa, 6616 (42.6%) involving the vessels, and 7284 (46.9%) other heart and pericardium procedures. Robotic-assisted compared with nonrobotic surgery had a higher median cost ($39 030 vs $36 340; P <.001) but lower LOS (5 vs 6 days; P <.001) and lower mortality (1.0% vs 1.9%; P <.001). Robotic-assisted surgery had significantly fewer complications for all operation types (30.3% vs 27.2%; P <.001). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Overall, robotic-assisted surgery has significantly reduced median LOS, complications, and mortality compared with nonrobotic surgery. Results of this study support the contention that robotic-assisted surgery is as safe as nonrobotic surgery and offers the surgeon an additional technique for performing cardiac surgery.
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