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Robotic Hysterectomy: The Minimally Invasive Alternative

Hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgery for women in the United States who are of reproductive age — just behind cesarean sections. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and approximately 20 million hysterectomies have been performed to date. 

A hysterectomy is a procedure to remove the uterus. The most common types are vaginal, abdominal, laparoscopic-assisted vaginal and laparoscopic supracervical. Your gynecologist may also remove one or both ovaries and the fallopian tubes. In some cases, he or she may remove other parts of the reproductive system. Hysterectomies may be recommended or even necessary when a woman has:

  • Unmanageable cancer of the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries
  • Non-cancerous fibroid tumors
  • Unstoppable infection
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Severe complications during childbirth, such as a rupture of the uterus
  • Uterine prolapse
  • Endometriosis
  • Chronic pelvic pain

Although a hysterectomy is a commonly performed procedure, many women are wary due to risk factors and recovery time. Some possible complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Injury to the ureters (tubes carrying urine from kidneys to bladder) and bladder
  • Infection
  • Injury to the bowel or other intestinal organs
  • Trouble with urination or urinary incontinence 

However, there is now a much less invasive and more innovative approach — the robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy — available at Tanner. 

What is the difference between a typical hysterectomy and a robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy? 

When performed robotically, the surgeon uses the da Vinci Xi surgical system to guide tiny surgical instruments that remove the uterus and possibly other reproductive organs via 4 to 5 small incisions. A laparoscope is attached to the robotic arms of the da Vinci Xi, which translates the surgeon’s hand movements into precise movements at the instrument’s tip. This allows the procedure to be performed with more accuracy, giving the surgeon a better view and more precision than can be achieved with traditional laparoscopic surgery. The benefits of a robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy are:

  • Smaller incisions (four to five smaller, rather than one large)
  • Less recovery time (six days instead of two weeks)
  • Shorter duration of hospital stay
  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Less postoperative pain
  • Fewer wound complications
  • Less scarring
  • Faster return to normal activities

If you’re considering a surgical approach to treatment such as a hysterectomy, speak to your gynecologist. He or she can evaluate you and determine the best action to take for your reproductive and gynecological needs. 

To learn more about robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery at Tanner, visit SurgeryAtTanner.org.

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