When You Need a Hysterectomy, Know Your Options - Virtua Article

When You Need a Hysterectomy, Know Your Options

By Monica Agar, MD, Obstetrician and Gynecologist—Virtua OB/GYN

Disabling pelvic pain and heavy bleeding force many women into the decision to have a hysterectomy. In fact, 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. chooses to have this procedure before age 60. There are many hysterectomy options to consider; but newer, minimally invasive options help some women recover more quickly than with traditional surgery.

While it’s clearly modern technology, robots don’t perform robotic surgery. You’re always in the “hands” of a trained surgeon using sophisticated techniques and a robotic system. This latest approach to hysterectomy gives the surgeon excellent precision and control, resulting in less pain for the patient, fewer complications, and a quick recovery. Most patients only spend one night in the hospital and are back to many of their normal activities in 3 to 5 days.

If conservative treatments fail to relieve symptoms such as heavy bleeding, severe pain, or if you’re diagnosed with early gynecologic cancer, a robotic hysterectomy is an option to discuss with your physician.

Options for hysterectomies 

There are risks and benefits to all surgical options. Choosing one approach over another is completely personalized to the patient’s needs and lifestyle. The medical condition, the size and shape of the uterus, pelvic anatomy, a patient’s body type, and prior surgical history all factor into the decision of what type of hysterectomy is most suitable for the patient.

  • Open abdominal surgery: an open approach to hysterectomy is through a 6- to 12-inch incision in the abdomen to remove the uterus and cervix. 
  • Vaginal hysterectomy: removes the uterus through the vagina without any external incision. This approach often is used with benign (non-cancerous) conditions and when the uterus is normal size and associated with pelvic prolapse.
  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy: a minimally invasive approach that removes the uterus and the cervix with instruments inserted through 3 to 5 small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon inserts a miniature camera through one of the small openings, which provides a 2-dimensional image of the pelvic area. 
  • Robotic-assisted hysterectomy: an advanced minimally invasive approach often performed through one small incision, or 3-4 more incisions as needed. While performing this advanced laparoscopic procedure, the doctor sits at a console a few feet away from bedside, controlling the movement of 3-4 robotic arms over the patient. Unlike traditional laparoscopic surgery, the robotic instruments are precisely tuned to simulate the doctor’s wrist movements. A special, high-resolution camera gives a magnified 3-dimensional view of the abdomen. 

The advantages of robotic technology include reducing pain, decreasing blood loss, and minimizing infection risk. 

Call 1-888-VIRTUA-3 to find a gynecologist who can talk to you about what hysterectomy option would be best for you.

Updated April 23, 2018

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