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Robotic hysterectomy offers benefits for women

​"You need a hysterectomy." No woman wants her doctor to tell her surgery is required to address her medical problem. 

Two women talkingFortunately, many surgical procedures are now performed with minimally invasive techniques, such as using a robotic system to assist surgeons. This new technology is being used to perform hysterectomies.

"Hysterectomy is a common surgical procedure that's performed to remove the uterus," said Obstetrician/Gynecologist John Twelmeyer, M.D.​​​, Marshfield Clinic Minocqua Center. "It's often recommended to treat serious problems such as cancer or endometriosis."

In the past, the traditional surgical approach involved the surgeon making an incision across the woman's abdomen. This approach required several days in the hospital and four to six weeks of recovery before resuming previous activities. Today, surgical approaches include vaginal hysterectomy (removal of the uterus through the vagina), traditional laparoscopic hysterectomy and robotic-assisted hysterectomy.

"The primary difference between laparoscopic and robotic-assisted hysterectomy is the instruments," Dr. Twelmeyer said.

The robotic system is designed to be more mobile than the human wrist and provides for more subtle movements. It also offers higher magnification.

"Abdominal imaging is available in three dimensions," Dr. Twelmeyer said. "I can see certain physiology better using the robotic system."

During robotic surgery the surgeon works at a console and teams with an assisting surgery provider at the bedside who helps change the instrumentation as necessary. The system isn't a "robot," meaning it can't be programmed or make decisions on its own.

"The robotic system is an extension of the surgeon's hands and eyes," Dr. Twelmeyer said. "This type of surgery was first used for prostate cancer surgeries. It simply enhances a surgeon's skill through its precision."

Not every patient is a good candidate for robotic-assisted surgery. Among the factors your doctor will consider include your previous surgical history, whether you had a vaginal delivery, medical reasons for doing the procedure and patient preference.

Patients who have the minimally invasive robotic hysterectomy typically have:

  • A quicker recovery (often back to a normal routine in three weeks or less)
  • Less blood loss
  • Less pain
  • Fewer complications

Dr. Twelmeyer provides robotic-assisted hysterectomy at Ministry Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. For more information, call Marshfield Clinic Minocqua Center at 715-358-1261.