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Feature Article Should You Consider Robotic-Assisted Hysterectomy?

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A hysterectomy is the most commonly performed non-pregnancy related surgical procedure for women. Women who need a hysterectomy to remove the uterus may hear a lot of confusing terms before their procedure: laparoscopic, vaginal or open abdominal, but the latest in this list is a robotic-assisted hysterectomy.

There are pros and cons to each type of procedure and your doctor can help you determine the best option for you, but robotic-assisted hysterectomy gives women another choice when considering surgery. Robotic surgeons at Samaritan use the da Vinci Surgical System at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. 

“According to the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the vaginal route for hysterectomy should always be the first choice if possible as it is the least invasive and carries the least risk,” said Linda Fox, MD, Gynecology.  

“However, there are times that the vaginal route is not possible because of issues such as an enlarged uterus from fibroids, an ovarian cyst, cancer or known scar tissue,” said Dr. Fox. “In these situations, we can often offer the robotic/laparoscopic approach which offers less pain, less blood loss and quicker recovery than with a traditional open incision. Robotic surgery gives us better visualization and ability to maneuver in the tight spaces of the pelvis than traditional laparoscopy.”

With robotic-assisted procedures, a highly skilled surgeon who specializes in robotic techniques uses the equipment to perform the procedure through just a few tiny openings. Although the equipment is called a “robot,” it cannot operate on its own. The doctor is in control and uses his or her hand movements to create smaller, more precise movements. Because the amount of damaged tissue is so much less, most patients have less blood loss, scarring, pain and shorter hospital stays. 

A robotic-assisted hysterectomy will occur very similarly to a traditional abdominal hysterectomy. The procedure is conducted under general anesthesia, so you will not be awake for the procedure. Surgery typically takes three to four hours.  

“Women should discuss the possibility of hysterectomy for issues such as prolapse, abnormal bleeding, fibroids and some cases of chronic pelvic pain,” said Dr. Fox. 

If you have questions about hysterectomy, talk with your physician or ask for a referral to a gynecologist. Samaritan Health Services has offered robotic-assisted surgery since 2010.

Outline of female body with hysterectomy incision points

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In an open abdominal hysterectomy, the incision is 6 to 10 inches and involves cutting or pulling on the muscles inside which causes pain.

In a robotic-assisted hysterectomy, four to five smaller incisions are required without the need to split or pull muscles which results in less pain.