One in three women will have a hysterectomy before the age of 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, hysterectomy is the most common non-pregnancy-related surgery for women in the United States. It involves the removal of the uterus and sometimes also the cervix, fallopian tubes or ovaries.
The procedure, first done in Manchester, England in 1843, is used to treat uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and some cases of cervical cancer. It’s also used for common noncancerous uterine conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and uterine bleeding.
It used to be that an open hysterectomy was the only option, requiring six weeks of downtime and a long scar on the abdomen. That began to change in the 1970s and ’80s with the development of laparoscopic surgery techniques. The result was minimally invasive surgery with less scarring and shorter recovery periods.
Now, there’s an even more advanced option—a robotic-assisted hysterectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System.
Here’s how it works: The surgery is performed entirely by your doctor, who controls the da Vinci System from a console in the room. A magnified vision system provides a high-definition 3D view inside the patient’s body. Two foot pedals and two hand controllers are used to control extremely precise movements of tiny surgical tools.
The benefits of the da Vinci system are many. The robotic arms can bend and rotate far more than human hands can. They also can get into hard-to-reach places and are steadier than those of even the most gifted surgeon.
The result to patients? Compared to open surgery, there are smaller surgical scars, shorter hospital stays, a quicker recovery, less bleeding, less chance of damage to nerves, fewer blood transfusions required and less need for narcotics after surgery.
The first da Vinci surgery was done in 1997 and it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000. Since then, the system has been used 3 million times worldwide.
If you’re facing a hysterectomy, you’ll want to consider all of your surgical options. Every situation—and every patient—is different and has her own unique considerations. Find a physician today to schedule an appointment. Together, you and your doctor can discuss what’s best for you—and make a plan to get you feeling better.