Robotic liver resection is a new promising minimally invasive surgical technique not yet validated by level I evidence. During recent years, the application of the laparoscopic approach to liver resection has grown less than other abdominal specialties due to the intrinsic limitations of laparoscopic instruments. Robotics can overcome these limitations above all for complex operations. A review of the literature on major hepatic surgery was conducted on PubMed using selected keywords. Two hundred and thirty-five patients in 17 series were analysed and outcomes such as operative time, estimated blood loss, length of hospital stay, complications, conversion rate, and costs were described. The most commonly performed procedures were wedge resection and segmentectomy, but the predominance of major hepatectomies performed with robotic surgery is likely due to the superior control achieved by the robotic system.
The conversion and complication rates were 4.2% and 13.4%, respectively. Intracavitary fluid collections and bile leaks were the most frequently occurring morbidities. The mean operation time was 285 min. The mean intraoperative blood loss was 50–280 mL. The mean postoperative hospital stay was four to seven days. Overall survival and long-term outcomes were not reported. Robotic liver surgery in Italy has become a clinical reality that is gaining increasing acceptance; a survey was carried out on robotic surgery, which showed that it is perceived as a significant advantage for operators and a consistent gain for the patient. More than 100 robotic hepatic resections have been performed in Italy where important robotic training schools are active.
Robotic liver surgery is feasible and safe in trained and experienced hands. Further evaluation is required to assess the improvement in outcomes and long-term oncologic follow-up.