A hysterectomy generally involves the removal of the uterus, the cervix and fallopian tubes. In some cases, it also includes removing the ovaries. The procedure can treat uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and some cases of cervical cancer. It’s also utilized for common noncancerous uterine conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and uterine bleeding.
The procedure has definitely advanced throughout the decades. An open hysterectomy was once the only option, requiring six weeks of downtime and a long scar on the abdomen. That began to change in the 1970s and ’80s with the development of laparoscopic surgery techniques. The result was minimally invasive surgery with less scarring and shorter recovery periods.
Now, there’s an even more advanced option—a robotic-assisted hysterectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System. The first da Vinci surgery was done in 1997 and it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000. Since then, the system has been used 3 million times worldwide.
How does it work? The surgery is performed entirely by your surgeon who controls the da Vinci System from a console in the room. A magnified vision system provides a high-definition 3D view inside the patient’s body. Two foot pedals and two hand controllers are used to control extremely precise movements of tiny surgical tools.
Benefits of the da Vinci System
The robotic arms can bend and rotate far more than human hands can. They also can get into hard-to-reach places and are steadier than those of even the most gifted surgeon.
Robotic-assisted surgery is an excellent tool for laparoscopic procedures. It can be used for hysterectomies, removal of fibroids, removal of certain types of birth control implants, complicated endometriosis and tubal pregnancy. Because of the way the robot works, it offers great benefits for patients including less post-operative pain and a quicker recovery. In most robotic cases, the patient is able to go home the same day as the surgery.
If you’re facing a hysterectomy, you’ll want to consider all of your surgical options. Every situation — and every patient — is different and has her own unique considerations. Together, you and your doctor can discuss what’s best for you—and make a plan to get you feeling better.
For more information on the da Vinci Surgical System and to meet the Fisher-Titus Team of surgeons, https://www.fishertitus.org/robotic-surgery.
Kristin Kruse, MD FACOG, is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who practices with Fisher-Titus Women’s Health, 38 Executive Drive in Norwalk. Dr. Kruse has advanced training and certification in robotic-assisted gynecological surgeries, as well as single-site gynecological surgeries.