It may be surprising to many that an estimated one-third of all women will have a hysterectomy by age 60, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hysterectomy is, in fact, the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States.
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus and may involve the removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures. The uterus is removed to treat or prevent a variety of conditions.
Traditionally, a hysterectomy was performed through an incision in the abdomen and required several weeks recovery time. In recent years, however, the procedure has advanced to be less invasive and require shorter hospital stays with less recovery time.
Today, robotic-assisted, minimally invasive hysterectomy procedures are becoming more common. Compared to a traditional hysterectomy, the robotic-assisted procedure requires less recovery time and helps women return to their normal activities more quickly.
Robotic-assisted surgery, like other minimally invasive surgeries, uses cameras and instruments that are inserted through small incisions. The surgeon uses the hand controls of a state-of-the-art console to control the robotic arms during a procedure.
Through the console's viewfinder, the surgeon sees high resolution, 3D images that are sent back by the cameras. The quality of the images and the precision of the surgical arms enable the surgeon to provide optimal care to their patients.
Robotic-assisted procedures are progressing to become even less invasive, including single-site procedures. This approach allows for a single incision hidden within the belly button, compared to previous robotic-assisted or laparoscopic surgeries, which required three to five small visible incisions. The surgery can be performed in less than one hour, and many patients return home within four hours.
If your physician recommends a hysterectomy, discuss the options to determine the right procedure for you.
Dr. J. Mike Guiler is an obstetrician and gynecologist, practicing minimally invasive surgery at Saint Joseph East, part of KentuckyOne Health.