There are many reasons why someone may need a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus. For those who need this surgery, robotic assisted hysterectomies offer an updated approach to the procedure that provides many benefits to the patients. Dr. Roxanna Torres, Chief of Women’s Medicine at Van Wert Health, explains that “robotic-assisted hysterectomies provide a better surgery all-around; surgeons can perform better, and patients get an easier recovery.”
What is a Robotic Assisted Hysterectomy?
This procedure utilizes two separate pieces of equipment. The first is the robotic piece that stays next to the patient in the operating room. It has four “arms,” which are long, thin lubes attached to either a surgical instrument or a camera.
A short distance from the operating table sits the surgeon with the second piece of equipment, a computer that resembles a video game. Using the hand-held controls, the surgeon controls the movements of the robotic arms and the instruments and cameras attached to them. The computer has binocular-like lenses which generate a 3-D view of the operating area.
The surgeon manipulates these two pieces of equipment in order to complete the hysterectomy procedure.
Surgical Benefits of Robotic Assisted Hysterectomies
Robotic-assisted surgery provides many benefits for the surgeon. According to Dr. Torres, “robotic-assisted surgery allows the surgeon to have a better view of the surgical field and gives them better control over the instruments; much better than we can achieve with our natural hand and wrist movements.”
The 3D view of the surgical field can also be magnified up to 15 times while still maintaining high resolution, allowing the surgeon to see every aspect of the surgical field much better.
In addition, the robotic arms and the instruments attached were created to mimic the movement of human hands, wrists, and fingers. The difference is that the robotic arm allows for a more extensive range of motion that is more precise than if a surgeon were to work with solely their hands.
The fact that the robotic arms remain steady, no matter the duration of the surgery, is yet another benefit. The robotic arms can also work in positions and angles that human hands and fingers might have difficulty reaching and then maintaining for an extended period of time.
Patient Benefits of Robotic-Assisted Hysterectomies
In addition to the greater precision and improved surgery that robotic-assisted procedures offer surgeons, there are additional benefits with these procedures that patients directly experience.
Less Blood Loss During Surgery
Compared to traditional open surgery, surgery with robotic assistance results in less blood loss since smaller incisions are utilized. This provides a safer surgical environment for the patient and lessens the risk of complications associated with blood loss.
Robotic assisted surgery is performed using very small incisions since only the small robotic arms need to enter the body, versus the hands of the surgeon. In addition, the camera is able to provide a clear view, removing the need to create a large incision for an adequate viewing field.
For robotic-assisted hysterectomies, the incisions are typically ½ inch long, and each patient will have four or five incisions in the abdomen. The smaller incisions result in less scarring and less post-operative pain since the incisions are not extending over as much of the body.
Less Risk of Infection
Yet another benefit of the smaller incisions is that they offer a smaller chance of infection because there is less space for outside antigens such as bacteria to enter your body. In addition, with only the robotic arms being used for the surgery, there is a smaller chance of infection during the procedure.
Shorter Hospital Stay
Since the procedure requires smaller incisions, hospital stays are much shorter than they would be for a standard hysterectomy procedure. In fact, this procedure is considered an outpatient surgery, and while some people may stay overnight, other women go home on the day of the surgery.
Short Recovery Time
You also experience a much faster return to activity. For example, you can resume regular light activities such as walking, eating, and going up stairs the next day. In general, you are able to return to activities as soon as you feel up to it; you are not as stuck in terms of waiting for the surgery scars to heal since the incisions are so small.
Less Post-Operative Pain
As with all other benefits, the smaller incisions and less invasive nature of the surgery also results in less pain during recovery. Not only is this better for the patient, but it also means that there is a reduced need for long-term use of pain medicine since pain is not as extreme and does not last as long due to the quicker recovery time.
Stay Informed and Talk to Your Doctor
The benefits offered by robotic assisted hysterectomies are numerous, and they extend to both the surgeon and the patient.
Utilizing robotic technology allows the surgeon to be more precise with their technique while also not having to worry about maintaining steady hands and navigating hard-to-reach areas. As Dr. Torres explains, “These robotic arms cannot move on their own, as a surgeon, we are controlling every movement, but they allow us to be much more precise, no matter how long the surgery runs.”
When it comes to the patient, the smaller incisions used by the robotic arms mean an easier and faster recovery, with a decreased risk of complications.
For anyone considering a hysterectomy, no matter the reason, robotic assistance can help improve the surgical outcome and make your recovery more manageable. If you are interested in learning more about robotic assisted hysterectomies, Van Wert Health is here to answer any questions you may have. Connect with us!