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What Is a Robotic Hysterectomy?

Article Details
  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Hysterectomies have been performed since the 1800s as a means to treat difficult female reproductive tract problems. Over the decades, advancements in diagnostics and surgical techniques have made the operation one of the safest and most effective procedures available. Robotic hysterectomy is one of the most recent innovations that allows a surgeon to manipulate joysticks and similar instruments to control the movement of robotic surgical equipment. A 3-D camera lets the surgeon view the entire operation on a monitor and guide the electronic tools. Robotic hysterectomy promises shorter hospital stays, quicker recovery times, and almost no chance of major complications.

Robotic hysterectomy has grown in popularity since the 1990s. Many different conditions can be treated with the procedure, including uterine fibroids, cancer, endometriosis, and severe cervical dysplasia. In general, doctors try to preserve the uterus whenever possible by prescribing medications or performing minor surgeries. When conditions persist, consultations for hysterectomies can be arranged.

Before the procedure, a patient is placed on a comfortable chair and table and given general anesthesia. The surgeon makes two to four very small marks on the lower abdomen and makes incisions. An endoscopic camera is attached to a robotic arm and manually fed into an incision. Scalpels, forceps, and other surgical tools are attached to other arms and situated into place. The surgeon then takes a seat at the control panel and prepares to operate.

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The lighted 3-D camera transmits a real-time image to the surgeon's monitor. He or she can make basic movements with the camera and tools by moving controls forward, backward, and sideways with the hand. Subtle, fine movements are controlled with finger buttons and triggers. When the uterus is freed from surrounding tissue, it can be removed through the vaginal cavity and the incisions can be sutured. A skilled surgeon can perform a partial or total robotic hysterectomy in less than one hour.

Following a robotic hysterectomy, the patient is typically brought to a hospital room to recover from the anesthesia. Light vaginal bleeding and minor abdominal discomfort may arise, though symptoms usually improve within a few hours. Most patients only need to spend a single night in the hospital. After a few days of rest, patients can return for follow-up visits to make sure their procedures were successful. In most cases, robotic hysterectomy leaves minimal scars and allows patients to return to normal activity in less than two months.

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