Comparison of laparoscopic vs. robotic paraesophageal hernia repair: a systematic review
Review Article

Comparison of laparoscopic vs. robotic paraesophageal hernia repair: a systematic review

Himani Bhatt1, Benjamin Wei2

1Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA; 2Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, Birmingham VA Medical Center, Birmingham, AL, USA

Contributions: (I) Conception and design: Both authors; (II) Administrative support: Both authors; (III) Provision of study materials or patients: Both authors; (IV) Collection and assembly of data: Both authors; (V) Data analysis and interpretation: Both authors; (VI) Manuscript writing: Both authors; (VII) Final approval of manuscript: Both authors.

Correspondence to: Benjamin Wei, MD. Zeigler Research Building 701, 619 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35233-0007, USA. Email:

Background: In both clinical practice and residency training, the use of robotic platforms in surgery is becoming more common. The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review of the perioperative outcomes of robotic and laparoscopic paraesophageal hernia (PEH) repair.

Methods: The PRISMA statement guidelines were used to perform this systematic review. We conducted a database search which included Ovid MEDLINE(R) and Epub Ahead of Print, In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, and Daily, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Ovid Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Scopus. There were 384 articles discovered in the initial search using various keywords. From those 384 articles, after duplicates were removed and publications were eliminated based on eligibility criteria, 7 publications were then chosen for analysis. Risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool. Narrative synthesis of results has been provided.

Results: When compared to standard laparoscopic approaches, robotic surgery for large PEHs may offer benefits in terms of decreased conversion rate and shorter hospital stay. Some studies found a decrease in need for esophageal lengthening procedures and fewer long-term recurrences. The perioperative complication rate is similar between the two techniques in most studies; however, one large study of nearly 170,000 patients in the early years of robotics adoption demonstrated a higher rate of esophageal perforation and respiratory failure in the robotic group (2.2% increase in absolute risk). Cost is another disadvantage of robotic repair when compared to laparoscopic repair. Our study is limited by the non-randomized and retrospective nature of the studies.

Conclusions: More studies into recurrence rates and long-term complications are needed to determine the efficacy of robotic versus laparoscopic PEHs repair.

Keywords: Paraesophageal hernia (PEH); hiatal hernia (HH); diaphragmatic hernia; laparoscopy; laparoscopically; robotic surgery; robotic-assisted

Submitted Jun 06, 2022. Accepted for publication Jan 30, 2023. Published online Feb 16, 2023.

doi: 10.21037/jtd-22-819

Highlight box

Key findings

• Robotic paraesophageal hernia repair may result in similar, if not improved, outcomes compared to laparoscopic repair in terms of patient satisfaction, hospital stay, conversion rate, and ability to perform difficult cases. This technique, however, is associated with higher costs and potentially a higher rate of perioperative complications, especially for those early on in their robotic experience.

What is known and what is new?

• Laparoscopic paraesophageal hernia repair is currently considered the gold standard, with a recent paradigm shift in minimally invasive surgery towards robotic paraesophageal hernia repair.

• We reported the first systematic review comparing robotic and traditional laparoscopic paraesophageal hernia repair.

What is the implication, and what should change now?

• Robotic paraesophageal hernia repair is safe and feasible.

• Further prospective studies and/or clinical trials should be conducted to compare the robotic and laparoscopic paraesophageal hernia repair.


A hiatal hernia (HH) is the herniation of abdominal contents into the mediastinum through the diaphragm. There are four types of HHs (I–IV) (1,2). Paraesophageal hernia (PEH) is a rare (5–10% of all HHs) type of HH, in which the abdominal viscera herniates through the dilated diaphragmatic hiatus along with the esophagus (2,3). The incidence of PEH increases with age, thus with an aging population an increase in the overall incidence of PEH may be expected (3). Treatment options range from watchful waiting, pharmacological management for symptom control, and surgical repair (1,4). A wide array of surgical techniques to repair PEH have been developed. With the advent of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), there has been an overall improvement in patient outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality when compared to trans-thoracic and trans-abdominal open surgical procedures (5,6). The first laparoscopic PEH repair was performed in 1990 and over the years, it has become the gold standard surgical treatment choice for PEH (3,7). Despite ongoing advancements in laparoscopic instruments, there still are technical challenges which surgeons can encounter, such as limited mobility to work in small spaces and reach challenging angles, 2-D image visualization, and suboptimal camera handling or motion (4,6). To overcome some of the shortcomings of laparoscopic surgery, robotic surgical solutions have been developed. These modalities have a unique set of advantages over traditional laparoscopic MIS, including improved mobility to work in small spaces to reach challenging angles, improved ergonomics, and 3-D image visualization. However, robotic surgery has its own disadvantages, such as longer operative time and increased cost and complexity (8). Though laparoscopic PEH repair is generally considered superior to the open approach, the increasing popularity of robotic PEH repair has led to a debate on which approach represents the optimal form of MIS (5). There is limited data on laparoscopic versus robotic PEH repair and no known randomized controlled trials. The aim of this study was to compare laparoscopic versus robotic PEH repair with regards to perioperative outcomes. We present the following article in accordance with the PRISMA reporting checklist (available at


A comprehensive search of several databases from each database’s inception to May 11th, 2022, in English was conducted. The databases included Ovid MEDLINE(R) and Epub Ahead of Print, In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, and Daily, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Ovid Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Scopus. The search strategy was designed and conducted by a researcher with input from the study’s principal investigator, and no help was sought from a biomedical librarian. Controlled vocabulary supplemented with keywords was used to search for robotic vs. laparoscopic PEH repair in humans, keywords used: “esophageal hernia”, “hiatal hernia”, “hiatus hernia”, “oesophageal hernia”, “paraesophageal hernia”, “paraoesophageal hernia”, “Robotic Surgery”, “Robotic Surgical”, “robot*”, “Laparoscopy”, “keyhole” or “key-hole” or “Laparoscop*” or “minimally invasive surg”. This search eventually yielded 384 articles. The actual strategy listing all search terms used and how they are combined is available in the appendix (see Appendix 1).

The inclusion and exclusion criterion were as follows. Studies were included using the following criteria: (I) all articles related to PEH repair; (II) peer reviewed articles; (III) articles published in the last 10 years; (IV) articles in English; (V) full text articles; (VI) study population—humans; (VII) age—above 18 years. Studies were excluded using the following criterion: (I) papers unrelated to PEH repair; (II) non peer reviewed articles including grey literature (master’s thesis, white papers); (III) unpublished literature including abstracts, conference abstracts; (IV) articles older than 10 years; (V) articles not in English; (VI) articles on pediatric patient population. After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, we were left with 7 articles. Assessment for bias and risk was done using Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool and Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, respectively. Data analysis of demographics and perioperative outcomes such as operative time, intraoperative complications, length of stay, perioperative complications and mortality, recurrence, cost, and patient reported outcomes from all the studies were included in this systematic review using a narrative synthesis approach.


We retrieved a total of 384 published articles during the initial search. After removing duplicates and eliminating publications based on eligibility criteria, 7 studies were selected for analysis from a total of 384 articles found in the database search (Figure 1).

Figure 1 PRISMA flow chart.

Synthesis of results

Narrative synthesis has been provided for the findings obtained from the studies. The data extracted has been presented in a tabular form in Table 1.

Table 1

Summary of findings from studies comparing robotic and laparoscopic PEH repair

Name Study Type of study Population Intervention Comparison Outcome Quality assessment
Short-Term Outcomes in Patients Undergoing Paraesophageal Hiatal Hernia Repair Howell et al., April 2020 (2) Retrospective 128 cases of isolated HH repair from January 2012 through April 2017 84 laparoscopic hiatal hernia repairs; 44 robotic hiatal hernia repairs 30-day outcomes, e.g., 1. LOS; 2. readmissions; and 3. reoperations; 4. complications Length of stay for laparoscopic and robotic: 1.0 day (1.0–3.0) and 2.0 days (1.0–2.5); P=0.483; thirty-day readmission occurred in 9 patients, 7 (8.3%) laparoscopic and 2 (4.6%) robotic; P=0.718; two 30-day reoperations occurred, both laparoscopic; P=0.545; no increased risk of 30-day readmission or complications. Associated with minimally invasive HH repair NOS: 6 stars
Complications Following Robotic Hiatal Hernia Repair Are Higher Compared to Laparoscopy Ward et al., Dec 2021 (8) Retrospective 168,329 patients underwent laparoscopic or robotic paraesophageal hernia repairs, Jan 2010–Sep 2015 158,432 laparoscopic PEH repair; 9,897 robotic PEH repair 1. Mortality; 2. post-operative complications; and 3. length of stay; 4. total charges Overall adjusted rate of complications in robotic PEH repair vs laparoscopic PEH OR (95% CI): 1.17 (1.07, 1.27). Robotic hiatal hernia repairs—increased length of stay and increased charges NOS: 6 stars
Robot-assisted vs. laparoscopic repair of complete upside-down stomach hiatal hernia (the RATHER-study): a prospective comparative single center study Wilhelm et al., July 2022 (9) Prospective, comparative clinical study 55 patients’ cUDS hernias (subgroup of HH), July 2015 and June 2019 19 laparoscopic cUDS hernias repair; 36 robotic cUDS hernias repair 1. Intra-and postoperative complications;
2. 30-day morbidity; and 3. mortality;
4. recurrence; 5. quality of life
Robot-assisted surgery clinical outcome is equal to that obtained by standard laparoscopic surgery NOS: 8 stars
Robotic-assisted paraesophageal hernia repair--a case-control study Gehrig et al., July 2013 (10) Retrospective, case control 42 patients with PEH from 2003 to 2007 13 open surgery PEH repairs; 17 conventional laparoscopic PEH repairs; 12 robotic PEH repairs 1. Operating time; 2. intraoperative blood loss; 3. intra- and postoperative complications; 4. mortality; and 5. readmission within 30 days of discharge Operating time robotic group—longer (38 min); intraoperative blood loss lower (217 mL) compared to OS. Similar to the CLS group; intraoperative complication rate similar in all groups; postoperative complication rate in the RAS group similar to the CLS group; hospital stay similar to the CLS group NOS: 6 stars
Robotic Versus Laparoscopic Approach to Hiatal Hernia Repair: Results After 7 Years of Robotic Experience O’Connor et al., Sept 2020 (11) Retrospective observational cohort study 392 cases of HH repair from 2006 through 2019 278 laparoscopic hiatal hernia repairs; 114 robotic hiatal hernia repairs 1. Operative; 2. demographic; and 3. outcomes data were compared between laparoscopic and robotic groups No significant difference in median operative time; need for reoperation, or readmission to the hospital; perioperative complication rate; laparoscopic repairs—longer LOS—than robotic repairs (3.3 vs. 2.3 days, respectively; P=0.003); recurrence rates at 1 year lower after robotic repair (13.3% vs. 32.8%; P=0.008) NOS: 5 stars
Robot-assisted hiatal hernia repair demonstrates favorable short-term outcomes compared to laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair Soliman et al., July 2020 (12) Retrospective 293 consecutive patients who underwent elective hiatal hernia repair 151 laparoscopic hiatal hernia repairs; 142 robotic hiatal hernia repairs 1. Previous hiatal hernia repair; 2. postoperative complications; 3. hospital LOS; 4. mortality; and 5. duration of hospital stay Higher ASA III and IV (7.9% vs. 4.2%, P=0.03); hospital stay was significantly shorter (1.3±1.8 vs. 1.8±1.5 days, P=0.003); lower rates of complications (6.3 vs. 19.2%, P=0.001) after robotic compared to laparoscopic hiatal hernia repair; no difference—readmission rate, mortality NOS: 6 stars
Favorable peri-operative outcomes observed in paraesophageal hernia repair with robotic approach Gerull et al., June 2021 (13) Retrospective 1,854 patients underwent PEH repair from January 2009–December 2019 1,024 laparoscopic PEH repair; 830 robotic PEH repair 1. Operative time; 2. conversion to open; 3. need for an esophageal lengthening procedure; 4. operative equipment costs; and 5. LOS Robotic PEH repair—a significant reduction in esophageal lengthening procedures performed (0.1% vs. 11.0%; P<0.001); conversion to open (0% vs. 7.0%; P<0.001), and LOS (1.8 days vs. 3.1 days; P<0.001); intra-operative equipment costs were similar NOS: 5 stars

PEH, paraesophageal hernia; HH, hiatal hernia; cUDS, complete upside-down stomach; LOS, length of stay; OS, overall survival; CLS, conventional laparoscopic surgery; RAS, robotic assisted surgery; ASA, American Society of Anesthesiologists; OR, odds ratio; CI, confidence interval; NOS, Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

Ultimately our review included 171,093 patients from seven observational studies. Generally, in these studies, retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data was being used to identify patients undergoing PEH repair either laparoscopically or robotically. This data was then used to compare their perioperative outcomes. Demographics, clinical characteristics, and perioperative outcomes from the included studies are given in Table 2.

Table 2

Demographics, clinical characteristics, and perioperative outcomes from studies comparing robotic and laparoscopic PEH repair

Outcomes Gehrig T (n=42) (10) Soliman BG (n=293) (12) Howell RS (n=128) (2) Gerull WD (n=1,854) (13) Wilhelm A (n=55) (9) O’Connor SC (n=382) (11) Ward M (n=168,329) (8)
Robotic Laparoscopic Open P value
(RAS vs. CLS)
Robotic Laparoscopic P value Robotic Laparoscopic P value Robotic Laparoscopic P value Robotic Laparoscopic P value Robotic Laparoscopic P value Robotic Laparoscopic P value
Age (years) 68.1±7.9 60.2±11.8 64.9±15.4 0.084 61.0 63.0 0.11 63 (51.5–72.5) 61 (50–70.5) 0.392 65.1 (±13.1) 63.1 (±14.2) <0.001 71 [44–90] 76 [44–91] 0.12 Not statistically significant 0.099 59.1 (15.2) 54.9 (15.7) <0.01
Sex (female) (%) 75 29.4 53.8 0.253 72.7 73.5 0.75 68.2 69 1.000 64.7 67.1 0.280 64 74 0.55 More females 76.0 77.3 0.15
Operation time (minutes), mean ± SD or median (IQR) 172±31 168±42 134±52 0.785 186.5
(152.0, 232.0)
(132.0, 188.0)
<0.001 174.1 (±63.8) 187.3 (±65.3) <0.001 232
<0.001 Median 179 Median 175 0.681
Intraoperative complications (%) 8.3 5.9 7.7 1.0 0.6 2.7 <0.001 12.5 26 0.28
Length of stay (days), mean ± SD or median (IQR) 7.8±3.9 6.5±1.6 12.4±3.7 0.272 1.3 (±1.8) 1.8 (±1.5) 0.003 2.0 (1.0–2.5) 1.0 (1.0–3.0) 0.483 1.8 (±0.6) 2.9 (±1.4) <0.001 8.5 [4–21] 8 [4–15] 0.96 Median 3.3 Median 2.3 0.003 Not statistically significant
Peri-operative complications (%)
Post-operative complications 8.3 11.8 46.2 0.765 6.3 19.2 0.001 13.6 11.9 0.784
Intraoperative + postoperative complications 16.7 17.6 58.3
Overall complications 36 2 0.36 Not statistically significant 0.86 Odds ratio [95% CI]
1.17 [1.07; 1.27]
Perioperative mortality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5% 0.104 0 0 Not statistically significant 0.86 Odds ratio [95% CI]
1.42 [0.56; 3.60]
Postoperative results (%)
30-day Reoperation (%) 2.0 0.7 0.62 0 2.4 0.54 0.2 0.8 0.114 0 0 Not statistically significant 0.21
Readmission within 30 days of discharge 3.5 4 0.84 4.6 8.3 0.718 Not statistically significant 0.38
Recurrence 6 0 0.53 Median 13.3 Median 32.8 0.008
Expenses intra-operative equipment costs (USD) 2147 (±312.5) 2058 (±345.5) 0.012
Patient satisfaction 100% 100%
GERD-HRQL-score (median, IQR) 0 (0–20) 1 (0–2) 0.79

PEH, paraesophageal hernia; RAS, robotic-assisted surgery; CLS, conventional laparoscopic surgery; SD, standard deviation, IQR, interquartile range.

Operative time/intraoperative complications

In a prospective comparative clinical study by Wilhelm et al., 55 patients underwent complete upside-down stomach (cUDS) hernia (subgroup of HH) repair. The median operation time was significantly higher for robotic approach vs. laparoscopic approach (232 vs. 163 min) (9). Similarly, longer operative time [median (IQR), 186.5 (152.0, 232.0) vs. 158.0 (132.0, 188.0) min; P≤0.001] was seen in the study by Soliman et al., whereas Gerull et al., found a statistically significant shorter operative time in robotic PEH repair [mean (SD), 174.1 (±63.8) vs. 187.3 (±65.3) min; P≤0.001] (12,13). On the other hand, two studies found no difference in the operative times between robotic and laparoscopic approach (10,11). One study noted a higher rate of intraoperative complications for a robotic approach as compared to a laparoscopic approach (0.6% vs. 2.7%, P<0.001) (6).

Length of stay

A significant decrease was found in the length of hospital stay following robotic PEH repair as opposed to laparoscopic PEH repairs (11-13). Four studies denote no difference and even a possible increase in hospital stay in robotic PEH repair, but all these findings were statistically insignificant (2,8-10).

Perioperative complications/mortality

A retrospective study by Ward et al., among 168,329 patients undergoing PEH repair between 2010–2015 reported overall adjusted rate of complications to be significantly higher in robotically assisted patient’s vs. laparoscopic surgery, even in high-volume centers (8). Postoperative complication rates in the robotic surgery group were similar to the laparoscopic surgery group in one study, but a higher postoperative complication rate was associated with laparoscopic technique in another (10,12). A retrospective study by Soliman et al., on 293 patients who underwent elective PEH repair found significant reductions in complication rates in the robotic surgery group (6.3 vs. 19.2%), whereas three other studies state no significant difference in postoperative complication rate (2,10,11). No statistical difference was found in reoperations, readmission rates and mortality between the modes of MIS (2,11,12).


A yearlong follow up showed significantly lower recurrence rates after robotic repair (13.3% vs. 32.8%). Consideration needs to be made regarding mean follow up differences between robotic approach vs. laparoscopic approach (23.7±28.4 vs. 15.1±14.9 months) (11). Robotic PEH repair was associated with a significant decrease in esophageal lengthening procedures being performed (0.1% vs. 11.0%), and conversion to open procedures (13).


Intraoperative costs were similar between robotic vs. laparoscopic repairs, whereas higher costs overall were associated with robotic PEH repairs (8,13).

Patient-reported outcomes

Patients in the study by Wilhelm et al. had similar GERD-HRQL scores regardless of the approach to repair PEH (9).

Risk of bias assessment

The Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool was used to assess the risk of bias. Individual factors from five domains are given a score (high, low, or unclear) to determine bias (selection, performance, attrition, reporting, and other). Using the guidance provided at the end of the form, risk of bias was selected as “high”, “low” or “unclear” for each judgment. A detailed description about the risk of bias assessment is provided in Table 3.

Table 3

Risk of bias assessment

Study Selection bias, random sequence generation Allocation concealment Reporting bias Performance bias, blinding participants and personnel Detection bias, blinding outcome Attrition bias Others
Gehrig et al., July 2013 (10) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk
Soliman et al., July 2020 (12) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk
Howell et al., April 2020 (2) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk
Gerull et al., June 2021 (13) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk
Wilhelm et al., July 2022 (9) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk
O'Connor et al., Sept 2020 (11) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk
Ward et al., Dec 2021 (8) High risk High risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk Low risk


One large 2012 study demonstrated that minimally invasive techniques account for 80% of surgical interventions for PEH (14,190 out of 17,830 procedures) (5). The advantages of MIS over open surgery include decreased pain, faster postoperative recovery, and lower morbidity. Over the last three decades, a laparoscopic approach for HH repair has become the gold standard procedure. Robotic surgery has been gaining popularity ever since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the DaVinci robotic surgical system for clinical use in the year 2000. Improved visualization, ergonomics, and additional degrees of freedom of the instrumentation has resulted in accelerating usage of robots in numerous surgical subspecialties. Despite these advantages, the entrance of robotic techniques into these different surgical subspecialties has not always resulted in improved outcomes (14,15).

The focus of our work was to compare robotic and laparoscopic PEH repair in the existing literature. Given the lack of any randomized trials comparing laparoscopic and robotic PEH repair, we decided to conduct a systematic review, which included seven articles with a total of 171,093 patients (160,005 laparoscopic repairs and 11,075 robotic repairs) published between 2012 and 2022. Patient demographics were similar to the previous studies including an average age 63.7 year and sex with female preponderance, making up to 67.5% of the study population (16), making our study results applicable to the typical patient population presenting for PEH; 168,329 of these patients were included in a single study, which deserves further comment (8). In this study, the difference in perioperative complication rate was driven mainly by an increased risk of esophageal perforation (OR 2.19, 95% CI: 1.42–3.93) and respiratory failure (OR 1.68, 95% CI: 1.37–2.05). The increased complication rate applied to even high-volume centers (defined by >20 operations/year), however the clinical significance of a 12.6% vs. 10.4% overall complication rate among high-volume centers is likely minimal. In addition, the years 2010–2015 would be considered relatively early in the worldwide experience of robotic PE repair, given that the earliest series of robotic PEH repair were published in 2008 (17,18). Nonetheless, this large, “real world” study demonstrates that robotic PEH repair may have some disadvantages, especially for those early in their experience.

Most of the other studies we analyzed, however, showed comparable if not favorable perioperative outcomes when comparing robotic to laparoscopic surgery (19-21). Robotic PEH repair demonstrated equivalent or superior hospital length of stay, compared to laparoscopic PEH repair. Perioperative outcomes were generally similar as a whole, though individual studies did show an improved complication rate, decreased conversion rate, lower recurrence rate, and decreased rate of esophageal-lengthening procedures in the robotic group compared to the laparoscopic group. Laparoscopic redo PEH repair conversion rates have been reported to be as high as 11% in the literature (13,16). Prior HH repair was more likely in robotic cases in four of the studies, and all of the studies in which this variable was reported (Howell, 20.4% vs. 5.9%, P=0.042; Soliman, 21% vs. 7.9%, P<0.00; Gerull, 32.5% vs. 24.2%, P<0.001; O’Connor, 24% vs. 12.9%, P=0.08) (2,6,11,12). The fact that near equivalent perioperative results were achieved in the robotic cohort in spite of a higher likelihood of reoperative PEH repair should be noted.

Limitations of our study include the non-randomized and retrospective nature of the studies included; therefore, selection bias could play a role in terms of influencing the results. Selection bias could favor either robotic or laparoscopic PEH repair; it was impossible to determine the relative size or complexity of hernias in patients who underwent robotic vs. laparoscopic PEH repair. One could argue that surgeons would be more likely to offer repair to patients with more sizeable hernias on the robotic platform, which has some advantages in terms of camera maneuverability (a significant concern in PEH repair, which is a transabdominal operation that takes place primarily in the chest) and control of retraction (no need for a potentially inexperienced assistant to retract). On the other hand, it is possible that surgeons early in their robotic experience may have preferred to perform “difficult” cases laparoscopically. A significant learning curve may be seen when transitioning toward robotic surgery. Unsurprisingly, shorter operative times are linked with an increased number of operations performed by a surgeon (22,23). The study by Lin et al., describe the transition into three phases. Phase 1 included cases 1 to 40 and had an increasing console time (CT). Phase 2, the improvement phase included cases around 41 to 84, and reflected a plateau in terms of CT. Phase 3, the mastery stage was seen at around 85 cases with a decrease in CT (22). These learning curves should be kept in mind while comparing laparoscopic and robotic approaches. Many robotic studies reflect the entire experience of the investigators, which includes cases done in the early and improvement phases cited above.

Another weakness is the inability to control for inter-operator variability between different providers in different studies (10,22). In addition, there could be an era effect that partially explains some of the improved outcomes seen in robotic PEH repair. Generally speaking, surgeons are more likely to transition from laparoscopic PEH repair to robotic PEH repair than from robotic to laparoscopic; therefore, lessons learned and experience gained over time with regards to both intraoperative conduct of PEH repair and perioperative management would be more likely to favor robotic approaches.

Finally, due to the small number of studies for this research question, heterogeneity and sensitivity analyses for comparison of variables between the studies was not feasible.

As in many other procedures, robotic surgery is increasingly utilized for PEH repair; for now, however, the existing evidence shows that most perioperative outcomes are comparable between the robotic and laparoscopic approaches.


When compared to traditional laparoscopic techniques, robotic surgical treatment of PEH may provide the surgeon with enhanced dexterity and comparable outcomes. Current evidence generally demonstrates that robotic HH repairs may be linked to a decrease in hospital stay, lower recurrence rate, fewer conversions to open, and less of a need for esophageal lengthening procedures. Conversely, PEH repairs may be associated with higher complication rates and overall cost. More studies, ideally in a randomized fashion, are needed to compare laparoscopic and robotic PEH repair. Given the fact that equipoise between the two techniques is unlikely for any given surgeon or even institution, however, assessing these competing methods may depend on large, multi-center propensity-matched cohorts studies.


Funding: None.


Reporting Checklist: The authors have completed the PRISMA reporting checklist. Available at

Conflicts of Interest: Both authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form (available at BW serves as an unpaid editorial board member of Journal of Thoracic Disease from October 2022 to September 2024. The other author has no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Statement: The authors are accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Open Access Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits the non-commercial replication and distribution of the article with the strict proviso that no changes or edits are made and the original work is properly cited (including links to both the formal publication through the relevant DOI and the license). See:


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Cite this article as: Bhatt H, Wei B. Comparison of laparoscopic vs. robotic paraesophageal hernia repair: a systematic review. J Thorac Dis 2023;15(3):1494-1502. doi: 10.21037/jtd-22-819

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