Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery includes:
- Natural orifice surgery when the surgeon operates through the vagina or the uterine cervix
- Laparoscopic surgery which involves incisions 5 to 12mm in size on the abdomen versus several-inch incisions
- Robot-assisted surgery which is laparoscopic surgical ports attached to a sophisticated robot that allows the surgeon to perform difficult pelvic surgery with precision.
For the benefit of women in western Massachusetts, Baystate Medical Center gynecologic surgeons use the minimally invasive approach to most pelvic surgeries, including hysterectomies.
Gynecologic Surgery a Generation Ago
Formerly, our mothers and grandmothers underwent gynecologic surgeries with large abdominal incisions, entailing increased risks of blood loss, infection, pain and a long hospital stay. Those who underwent vaginal surgery where the surgeon operated through a natural orifice (the vagina) to remove or correct diseases of the uterus and vagina were considered fortunate.
Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery Today
While many women are still candidates for vaginal surgery, many others need surgeries that provide a full view of the pelvic contents. Robotic surgery utilizes miniature TV cameras that enable the surgeon to see the surgical site and manipulate a remote-controlled instruments that perform the surgery with microscopic precision. This combination of laparoscopic and robotic procedures offers these women smaller incisions, shorter hospital stays, and quicker return to normal activities and work.
The two da Vinci surgical systems in use at Baystate Medical Center enable our skilled laparoscopic surgeons to treat gynecologic cancers and severe pelvic diseases with greater accuracy and success. Very obese women, in particular, benefit from the smaller incisions that laparoscopic surgery require.
Questions to Ask Your Physician about Hysterectomy
When a woman needs a hysterectomy, she should feel confident that she and her physician have made choices that will produce the best possible outcomes.
- She should feel comfortable that medications or a less invasive surgery would not be more appropriate.
- She should ask her doctor what type of hysterectomy would work best for her:
- Total (removing the uterus and cervix)
- Subtotal (removing the body of the uterus but leaving the cervix in place)
- She should ask which surgical technique the surgeon will employ:
- She should ask about the risks and benefits of leaving or removing her ovaries. This will depend on her age, other medical issues, and personal and family history of any female-specific cancers.