Background: Conventional laparoscopic fundoplications (CLF) have been the gold standard for Nissen fundoplications (NFs) for two decades. The advent of a robotic approach for fundoplication procedures creates a potential alternative. Thus, we used a national database to examine perioperative outcomes with respect to open, laparoscopic, and robotic approaches. Methods: The University Health System Consortium is an alliance of medical centers, numbering over 115 academic institutions and their 271 affiliated hospitals. We used International Classification of Diseases codes to elicit patients over the age of 18 years who received NF procedures. Results: A total of 12,079 patients of similar demographic background received fundoplication procedures from October 2008 to June 2012. Of those, 2,168 were open fundoplications (OF), 9,572 were CLF, and 339 were robot-assisted laparoscopic fundoplications (RLF). CLF and RLF displayed no significance in mortality (0.1 vs. 0 %; p = 0.5489), morbidity (4.0 vs. 5.6 %; p = 0.1744), length of stay (2.8 ± 3.6 vs. 3.0 ± 3.5; p = 0.3242), and intensive care unit (ICU) cases (8.4 vs. 11.5 %; p = 0.051). However, CLF remained superior, with a lower 30-day re-admission rate (1.8 vs. 3.6 %; p < 0.05) and cost (US$7,968 ± 6,969 vs. US$10,644 ± 6,041; p < 0.05). When RLF was compared with OF, RLF had significantly improved morbidity (5.6 vs. 11 %; p < 0.05), length of stay (6.1 ± 7.2 vs. 3.0 ± 3.5 days; p < 0.05), less ICU admission (11.5 vs. 23.1 %; p <0.05) and less cost (US$10,644 ± 6,041 vs. US$12,766 ± 13,982; p < 0.05). Conclusions: Current data suggests that robot-assisted NF procedures have similar patient outcomes to conventional laparoscopic NF, with the exception of added cost and higher re-admission rate. While the higher costs are expected given the new technology, increasing re-admission rates are concerning and may represent the level of experience of the surgeon as well as the robotic learning curve.
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