Which is correct

  1. Robotic assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy; or
  2. Robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy.

Similarly also for,

  1. Robotic assisted medial and lateral meniscus repair; or
  2. Robotic-assisted medial and lateral meniscus repair.

Please explain

  • 1
    Shouldn't that be either "Robot assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy" or "Robotic laparoscopic hysterectomy"? May 24 '20 at 18:07
  • This is what the dictator always dictates.
    – Clenten
    May 24 '20 at 18:09
  • I usually do not use the hyphen, but the auditor checking the transcripts always uses the hyphen
    – Clenten
    May 24 '20 at 18:14
  • 1
    "Robot-assisted" is fine, but not "Robotic-assisted" or "Robotic assisted." The word robotic is an adjective. May 24 '20 at 18:15

As a general rule, you hyphenate words which function together as an adjective before the noun they are describing. This usually involves joining a noun and an adjective, for example, "a dog-friendly hotel". You shouldn't hyphenate words which are already adjectives, for example, "a charming old hotel".

In both of your examples, you are describing medical procedures - a laparoscopic hysterectomy, and a lateral meniscus repair.

"Laparoscopic" is an adjective, describing the approach of the procedure, as is the word "lateral" to describe which of the menisci referred to, so there are no need for hyphens there.

"Robotic" and "assisted" are also both adjectives, so these should not be hyphenated. However, "Robotic" is not an adjective that describes the entire procedure, so there is a problem. It should be "robot-assisted" (assisted by a robot).

However, this may be medical terminology, and terminology does not always follow the rules of English grammar. You should follow whatever terminology is being used by the medical professionals.


Google Ngram variants

The Ngram seems to favor the hyphens.
I added the word "robot-assisted", which seems more common in the result than all the others. It appears in regular Google search, too.
It makes more sense to me, since "robotic" is an adjective (though "robotics" is a noun). "Assisted by a robot" works, but "assisted by a robotic" sounds strange.

  • The dictator always dictates that way. I generally do not use the hyphen, but the auditor checking the transcripts always adds one. Even it is robot-assisted, what does this compound modifier modifies, laparoscopic or hysterectomy??
    – Clenten
    May 24 '20 at 18:22
  • @Clenten What do you mean by your "dictator" reference? Do you feel oppressed by the "auditor"? May 24 '20 at 18:25
  • @Clenten The head noun in the noun phrase is "hysterectomy". It is modified by all the adjectives. May 24 '20 at 18:26
  • Hi the dictator is the client who i work for, the auditor is one who checks for any grammatical errors in my document before finally sending it to the client.
    – Clenten
    May 25 '20 at 7:23
  • I a bit confused, if hysterectomy is the head noun then there should be hyphen between all of the three words i.e. Robotic-assisted-laparoscopic hysterectomy or is it that no matter how many words are in between the compound modifier and the HEAD NOUN, we can still use a hyphen, as I was under the impression that a "hyphen" should only be used in a compound modifier only if it is immediately followed by the noun
    – Clenten
    May 25 '20 at 7:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .