Hysterectomies and Robotic Surgeries
Terry Huff, MD, is an OB/Gyn who practices at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa.
Question: My doctor just told me I need a hysterectomy. I heard this can be done with the use of a robot. How does this work?
Answer: The da Vinci robot is a tool that trained physicians can use to assist them in performing conventional surgeries. The preferred method of doing a hysterectomy is the vaginal route because the uterus is removed through the vagina with no abdominal incisions.
This results in:
- Fast recovery (usually in two to four weeks).
- Minimal scarring or complications due to large abdominal incisions.
- Recovery pain is substantially less.
- Speedy recovery and return to normal activity.
Unfortunately, the uterus cannot always be removed easily through the vagina due to scar tissue, patient obesity, muscle tumors or a small vagina. However, with the development of the da Vinci robot and surgical laparoscopy, qualified surgeons can now remove the difficult uterus through the vagina or even free the uterus in the abdomen and then cut it up into small pieces to be removed through small incisions in the abdomen. The benefit is that the recovery is very similar to a vaginal hysterectomy with less pain, less scarring and a faster return to normal activity.
Occasionally, a surgeon may start a surgery robotically or laparoscopically and discover that conditions in the abdomen are so irregular that he cannot proceed safely without doing an abdominal incision. In this case, the surgeon will proceed to do a traditional abdominal hysterectomy and the patient will have a six- to eight-week recovery.
If a woman needs a hysterectomy, she should see if it can be done vaginally. If that is not possible, she should see if her doctor is trained to do robotic- or laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomies.