When medication and other treatments are unable to relieve symptoms, hysterectomy - the surgical removal of the uterus - is often recommended as a definitive solution for some gynecological conditions. In fact, this procedure is the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States, and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60. Each year in the U.S., doctors perform approximately 600,000 hysterectomies.
In addition to the traditional surgical methods for performing hysterectomies, there is now the da Vinci hysterectomy which offers some advantages to the patient that are worth understanding. Here is a further explanation of the traditional approaches, as well as an explanation of the da Vinci hysterectomy.
Surgeons perform the majority of hysterectomies using an "open" approach, which is through a large abdominal incision. An open approach to the hysterectomy procedure requires a 6-12 inch incision.
A second approach is vaginal hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus through the vagina, without any external incision or subsequent scarring. Surgeons most often use this minimally-invasive approach if the patient's condition is benign, when the uterus is of normal size and the condition is limited to the uterus.
In laparoscopic hysterectomies, the uterus is removed using instruments inserted through small tubes into the abdomen, resulting in 3-5 small incisions in the abdomen. One of these instruments is an endoscope - a small miniaturized camera - which allows the surgeon to see the target anatomy on a standard two-dimensional video monitor. A laparoscopic approach allows surgeons to better see the affected structures than either vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy.
While minimally invasive vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies offer important potential advantages to patients over open abdominal hysterectomy - including reduced risk for complications, a shorter hospitalization and faster recovery - there are inherent drawbacks. With vaginal hysterectomy, surgeons are challenged by a small working space and lack of view to the pelvic organs.
With laparoscopic hysterectomies, surgeons may be limited in their dexterity (since the instruments are straight and rigid) and by two-dimensional visualization, both of which can potentially reduce the surgeon's precision and control when compared with traditional abdominal surgery.
While no woman wants to face surgery, today the vast majority of gynecological conditions - from endometriosis to uterine fibroids, heavy menstrual bleeding to cancer - can now be treated effectively without a large incision. With da Vinci® Surgery, a hysterectomy requires only a few small incisions, so the patient can get back to normal activities faster - within days rather than the usual weeks required with traditional surgery.
da Vinci Surgery enables gynecologists to perform a precise, minimally invasive hysterectomy. For most women, da Vinci Hysterectomy offers numerous potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including:
- Significantly less pain
- Minimal blood loss and need for transfusion
- Fewer complications
- Shorter hospital stay
- Quicker recovery and return to normal activities
- Small incisions for minimal scarring
- Better outcomes, and patient satisfaction, in many cases
For more information about da Vinci hysterectomy, visit the da Vinci website. To locate a physician at White Plains Hospital who performs da Vinci surgery, contact the physician referral service at 914-681-1010.
For an explanation of other da Vinci surgery available at White Plains Hospital, see the prostate surgery page, as well as the gynecological surgery page.