What is robot-assisted GYN surgery?

Robot-assisted GYN surgery means that the surgeon is using a robotic platform to perform a hysterectomy, myomectomy, or prolapse surgery in a minimally invasive manner. Robot-assisted surgery only requires a few small incisions in the patient's abdomen through which the instruments attached to the robotic platform can be inserted into the body. These instruments mimic the surgeon's hand and wrist movements, and are completely controlled by the surgeon at a nearby console.

How safe is robot-assisted surgery?

Performing a GYN surgery using robotics is as safe as other accepted surgical techniques. This surgical technology has been approved by the FDA since 2005. Since then, more than 100,000 robot-assisted hysterectomies have been performed throughout the United States.

How is robot-assisted surgery different from open surgery and laparoscopy?

A traditional open GYN surgery requires either a low transverse incision (like a cesarean incision) or a vertical incision from the pubic bone to just above the navel. This size of this incision can result in a lengthy recovery of approximately six weeks and an increased risk of infection for some patients. Patients are also often left with a large scar and some abdominal muscle weakness following the procedure.

Both laparoscopy and robot-assisted surgery require smaller incisions, which result in a quicker recovery for the patient and decreased risk of infection. The tools used to perform laparoscopic procedures are rigid and do not allow for the extended range of mobility offered by the instruments used during robot-assisted surgery. As a result, procedures that are often challenging to perform with laparoscopy are made easier with robot-assisted surgery.

Does robot-assisted surgery eliminate the need for a real surgeon?

No, the surgeon is in control of the entire surgical system throughout the procedure. Although the robot allows the surgeon to make more precise hand and wrist movements, it cannot be programmed to perform surgery on its own. All maneuvers must be performed by a qualified surgeon who has been specifically trained and precepted in robotics. In addition, a resident/assistant and surgical scrub are at the bedside with the patient to assist the surgeon and change instruments as needed.

Could I be a candidate for robot-assisted surgery?

The decision to surgically treat a patient involves many considerations. Not every patient is an appropriate candidate for a minimally invasive procedure. BMC surgeons work closely with every patient, discussing treatment options and helping them decide on the best course of action — which may include robot-assisted surgery

What are the advantages of robotic surgery?

Patients who have robotic surgery have been shown to have less pain after surgery, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times. The four small incisions cause only minimal scarring after healing.

What are the advantages for the surgeon?

Generally speaking, using robot-assisted surgery to help treat GYN conditions makes it much easier to perform complex surgical procedures because of the robot's articulating instruments. Other benefits include a higher level of surgical precision, increased range of motion, and improved access to the affected area within the patient's body.