Unproven surgical treatments are to come under similar controls in Britain as drugs currently are. A monitoring system is to be set up shortly, mainly following the adverse publicity which surrounded techniques such as keyhole surgery.
Major surgical innovations could be subject to clinical trials in the same way that drugs are before being accepted for general use.
The Centre for Health Economics at York University recently reported that keyhole surgery had not been as rigorously tested as any drug, and that not all the surgeons using it had been properly trained.
Although the government is looking only at new techniques, it might like to be reminded that up to 80 per cent of all surgery has never been proven. Retrospective testing is presumably not on the agenda (BMJ, March 4, 1995).