Like most other surgical procedures, the process of removing a woman’s uterus has evolved to high levels of science and sophistication.(1)
Once upon a time, the single method was an open abdominal incision. This would leave a large scar, as well as require two to three days of hospital bed rest for the patient following the operation and several months of home recovery time.
Today, a series of much smaller incisions are made (three to four inches) with the aid of ultrasonic and electrosurgical instruments. Patients now generally leave the hospital the same or next day, and need but a few weeks of home recovery time. When this so-called laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure is performed with the enhanced manipulation of robotic instruments, it is known as a robotic hysterectomy.
Working with daVinci
One of the systems used for robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomies (RALH) is the daVinci surgical system with EndoWrist instruments. This high-tech wonder provides the surgeon with computer monitored three-dimensional vision and a level of tissue-handling precision that would simply not be possible via the human eye and hands.
Other benefits of a robotic hysterectomy include diminished blood loss and a substantial decrease in the amount of post-operative patient pain. All because, in part, these robotic instruments remove all trace of the human hand tremor.
Slow Adoption Rate
Hysterectomies as a whole are the second most common surgical procedure performed on women, after cesarean births.(2) Because of the expertise level required and cost of the robotic procedure, there is still a lack of exhaustive clinical data about the benefits of a partially mechanized procedure. However, all signs so far point to the robotic hysterectomy being the standard of the near future.
A laparoscopic procedure, with or without robotic instrumentation, generally takes longer to perform than an abdominal or vaginal form of the operation. As such, it means that the patient will be under anesthesia longer and thus, potentially subject to more risks.
(1) University of Maryland Medical Center – Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Health, Retrieved July 7, 2011 from http://www.umm.edu/womenscenter/hysterectomy.htm
(2) American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – Hystorectemy, Retrieved July 7, 2011 from http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp008.cfm