High-Tech Robotic Technology Shortens Recovery Time for Hysterectomy Patients
The decision to undergo a hysterectomy is an emotional one for women. The fear of surgical complications, post-surgical scarring and pain are all very real concerns. According to Los Angeles-area OB-GYN and surgeon Dr. David Ghozland, a revolutionary, minimally invasive hysterectomy procedure that uses robotic technology can significantly shorten recovery time and minimize visible scarring – both top concerns for prospective patients. While the decision to undergo a hysterectomy is still a difficult one, Ghozland says the single-site robotic hysterectomy is an ideal option for patients who hope to get back to normal activities sooner, while avoiding the visible scars and downtime associated with traditional surgery.
“There’s no question the single-site robotic-assisted hysterectomy is easier on patients,” he says.
The Journal of Minimal Access Surgery recently touted the benefits of laparoscopic surgery over conventional abdominal surgery, noting its benefits have been well documented in peer-review literature.1 According to the article, “With new single port surgical techniques, we have the added benefit of minimally invasive surgery and greater patient aesthetic satisfaction, as well as all the other benefits laparoscopic surgery offers.”
Traditional Versus High-Tech: Is Robotic Really Better?
Traditional open hysterectomy surgery utilizes a large incision for access to the uterus and surrounding organs. The challenge with this type of open surgery is that it can result in significant pain, trauma, and a long recovery process for the patients. For women facing gynecologic surgery, anxiety about post-surgical pain and a lengthy recovery period that interrupts work and daily activities can cause significant anxiety. Compare that to the minimally invasive robotic surgery where the surgeon accesses the uterus through a tiny, 1-2 cm incision in the belly button, minimizing the pain and risk associated with large incisions, and increasing the likelihood of a fast recovery and improved clinical outcome.
“We are able to perform a very complex surgery within a 2-centimeter incision in the belly button,” Ghozland explains. “The procedure is performed by coring the uterus and removing it one piece at a time.”
Ghozland, who is a pioneer in minimally invasive procedures such as this one, uses the da Vinci Surgical System for single site hysterectomy. Although the technique is called “robotic” surgery, surgical skill is still very much a factor. During robotic-assisted surgery, a computer controls the surgical instruments during the surgery, but the surgeon controls the movements of the computer from a station in the operating room. The surgeon is able to dictate the robot’s movements steadily and precisely, enabling him or her to navigate tiny spaces more easily and have a clearer view of the procedure in progress than with conventional laparoscopic surgery.
“The robotic procedure allows for improved control, increased visibility, HD capability and higher magnification, all significant advantages during a procedure like this,” says Ghozland, who is one of very few surgeons currently offering robotic single-site hysterectomy.
The Prevalence of Hysterectomy Procedures
Other than cesarean section, hysterectomy is the most common surgical procedure performed on women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2006-2010, 11.7 percent of women between the ages of 40-44 had a hysterectomy.2 Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the United States, and approximately 20 million American women have had a hysterectomy. While there may be a number of reasons why a woman’s doctor recommends a hysterectomy, the most commons issues include:
• Abnormal bleeding
• Pelvic pain
• Fibroids, which can cause bleeding and pain
• Uterine prolapse, or when the uterus slides form its normal position
• Uterine, cervical or ovarian cancers
For most women, traditional abdominal hysterectomy will require a hospital stay of several days and a complete recovery period of six to eight weeks. While any surgical procedure has risks, the advantages for patients who go the minimally invasive route include:
- Smaller incisions than in an open type of hysterectomy.
- Less pain and shorter hospital stay after surgery.
- Easier recovery period
- Reduced risk for complications like bleeding or infection
Ghozland is quick to note that not every woman will be a candidate for a robotic-assisted procedure, and says the robotic route is optimal for women who have a smaller uterus and less complex health concerns. But, for those women who do meet the criteria, the benefits can be significant; Ghozland’s patients typically return home the same day.