Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the uterus. Traditionally, hysterectomy has been performed through a large incision in the abdomen. But more recently, minimally-invasive techniques have been introduced that enable the surgery to be performed using much smaller incisions, either in the abdomen or internally through the vaginal wall with no external incisions. Some of these minimally-invasive approaches rely on surgical robots, specially-designed instruments that can be controlled by the surgeon while viewing the surgery on a computer screen, similar to a laparoscopic procedure. In robotic hysterectomy, the robot does not “perform” the surgery, but instead acts as an instrument guided by the surgeon to perform certain parts of the procedure with enhanced accuracy and precision. Our practice uses the da Vinci surgical robot system which has been shown to improve patient outcomes, reduce bleeding and tissue injury, and speed healing.
Robotic hysterectomy is usually performed under general anesthesia. Prior to surgery, a physical examination and a complete patient history will help determine the optimal approach, including whether an external or internal incision is a better option. Robot-assisted hysterectomy uses much smaller incisions compared to traditional hysterectomy, usually not exceeding 1.5 to 2 inches. Once the incisions are made, the instruments including the “arm” of the surgical robot will be inserted into the surgical site and a special camera will transmit highly-detailed three-dimensional images to the monitor, enabling the surgeon to gain a clear view of the surgical site throughout the procedure. During the procedure, the robot will be used to assist the surgeon during specific parts of the surgery, mimicking the hand movements of the doctor and enhancing those motions for much greater precision. Following the procedure, the incisions will be closed using very small sutures. Most patients have a one-night hospital stay for recovery and observation.
Robot-assisted hysterectomy can be an ideal choice for many women, but it’s not always the best choice. A presurgical examination will help determine which approach is the preferred option for each patient.