A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure for removing portions of a woman’s reproductive system. In a partial hysterectomy, the uterus is removed. In a total hysterectomy, the cervix is also removed. Robot-assisted hysterectomies are conducted by medical teams using sophisticated tools that replicate human movement and enhance surgical performance.

Hysterectomies are useful in treating a number of conditions, including:

  • Uterine and cervical cancers
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding

Your physician might opt for a robot-assisted procedure if open surgery is made more difficult by your medical condition or if he or she is concerned about an elevated risk of infection.

Benefits of Robotic Surgery

It is important to note that robotic surgery does not mean being operated on by a machine, rather than a fellow human. Robotic surgery is robot-assisted surgery, where the robot is simply a group of tools used by a surgeon and his or her medical team to aid in the procedure. These tools are called robots because they mimic human motions and movements, sometimes with greater precision than we’re capable of.

Robotic surgery offers the following benefits:

  • Smaller incisions than with open surgery, and therefore less blood loss
  • Reduced scarring
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Decreased post-surgical pain
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Quicker recovery times
  • Faster return to normal living.

How Does Robot-assisted Surgery Work?

At Baptist Health, robot-assisted hysterectomies are performed with the aid of the Intuitive da Vinci system. Intuitive is a leading American manufacturer of medical robots and related equipment.

The Intuitive da Vinci system has three parts:

  • A multi-armed robot for inserting cameras and other surgical instruments in the patient
  • A vision cart with endoscopic monitors that provide the surgeon with magnified, real-time images of the surgical site within the body
  • A computerized panel from which the surgeon controls the robot and performs the procedure

A robotic hysterectomy is conducted similarly to laparoscopic and other forms of minimally invasive surgery. The surgeon makes tiny incisions for the insertion of a camera – the surgeon’s eyes during the procedure – and other operating instruments for the detachment and removal of the uterus and other reproductive structures. However, a robot-assisted procedure has the advantage of greater precision than a human operating alone because robot technology downscales the surgeon’s hand motions to extremely fine movements, reducing the possibility of organ or tissue damage.

Joining the surgeon and the robot in the operating room are the entire surgical team, including the anesthesiologist, the nurses, and a second surgeon or surgical assistant for moving the robot into positions that aren’t mechanically controlled. 

What to Expect with Robot-assisted Surgery

The surgical procedure will take place with you lying on your back. You will be given anesthesia, so that you’ll be unconscious the whole time. The operation will be conducted by means of five small incisions, through which the visual equipment and surgical instruments will be introduced. These incisions will be much smaller than those required by open surgery, reducing the possibility of infection, lessening post-operative pain, and speeding recovery. Following surgery, a hospital stay of one or two days is common.

Know Your Risk

Baptist Health is committed to being a leading medical provider of robot-assisted diagnosis and surgery in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. If you have questions or concerns about your gynecological health, talk to your Baptist Health gynecologist.