For women facing certain gynecological conditions, surgery may be the best solution. Not long ago, gynecologic surgeries were major procedures that caused a lot of pain and blood loss and required extended recovery times. Thanks to new technology, however, these procedures have made huge advancements in recent years.
Traditional open surgical procedures require a large incision, which causes major trauma to the body and an increased risk of infection and other complications. Traditional open procedures also require lengthy hospital stays and a recovery time that can last several weeks. Fortunately, advancements in surgical techniques have significantly reduced the number of open hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures that are performed.
One alternative is laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive approach that requires only a few small incisions. Traditional laparoscopy involves the use of a camera that projects images onto a video monitor. This gives surgeons the ability to view the area with minimal trauma; however, the video only offers a flat view.
Robot-assisted surgery is a more advanced minimally invasive approach. It is important for patients to understand that, although the procedure is often known as "robotic," your surgeon is in control at all times. Before performing any robot-assisted procedures, surgeons must undergo specialized training. However, surgeons skilled in traditional laparoscopic procedures usually adapt quickly.
As with traditional methods, these surgeries include a team of professionals to assist the surgeon. Thanks to robot-assisted surgery, difficult cases that could not be done with traditional laparoscopy can now be performed in a minimally invasive manner with shorter recovery, less pain and less blood loss.
For example, robot-assisted surgery allows a surgeon to see each vein and artery, allowing them to precisely cauterize it before it bleeds, resulting in less blood loss. Surgeries performed with these systems can often be performed on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to resume normal activities within two or three weeks.
One common type of robot-assisted surgery tool is the da Vinci Surgical System, which uses a 10-times magnified, 3-D high-definition camera and smaller instruments that bend and rotate beyond the capabilities of the human wrist. These specialized instruments, combined with enhanced visualization, give surgeons the ability to see even the smallest details and to operate with greater precision than ever before.
Robot-assisted surgeries can be used for a wide range of gynecologic procedures, including tubal reversals and hysterectomies. Surgeons can also remove fibroid tumors on the uterus without having to perform a hysterectomy, which minimizes blood loss.
It is also useful for the treatment of endometriosis, a common medical condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus also grows outside it. Endometriosis can cause fertility problems, but the precision of robot-assisted surgery allows the surgeon to remove even the smallest tissues and restore fertility in most patients.
Robot-assisted surgery can even be used in more complex cases and to treat complications that may arise following surgery.
While robot-assisted surgery offers many benefits, it may not be appropriate for all gynecologic procedures. Your physician can help you determine the best course of treatment for you.