FDA investigates robotic surgery problems

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now/AP) - Federal health workers are taking a closer look at problems with surgeries involving robots.

Surgical robots like "Da Vinci" are popular in operating rooms across the United States.

Doctors use them for many procedures including prostate removal, repairing heart valves and transplanting organs.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is investigating a jump in reported injuries from the robot, including five deaths that may be linked to it.

Da Vinci's makers stand by their robot and say the spike reflects a change in how problems are reported.

But surgeons aren't sure.

"With robotic surgery, you lose the ability to feel the tissue," said John Hopkin's Surgeon Dr. Marty Makery. "You can't tell the strength and you can actually cut something without ever feeling it in your hands."

The makers of the Da Vinci say it has helped in more than one and a half million surgeries around the world, with a low rate of problems.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved. The AP contributed to this report.