As one of the most effective and least invasive surgical cancer treatments, robotic and minimally invasive surgery is being used to treat cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancers, among other conditions affecting women’s health. And, at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) and the Loma Linda University Cancer Center (LLUCC), our surgeons were the first in the San Bernardino and Riverside county area to offer robotic surgical services, using the top-of-the-line da Vinci surgical system and achieving outstanding outcomes.
Robotic and minimally invasive surgery has an ever-expanding number of applications. Some of the procedures we regularly offer to treat gynecologic cancer include:
The robotic hysterectomy procedure utilizes 4 small (1/2 inch) incisions to accomplish what used to require a 6 to 8 inch incision. Removal of the uterus is often necessary when a patient has uterine cancer, uterine enlargement from fibroid tumors, or uterine prolapse. In most cases, the uterus and cervix are removed, and the ovaries are left in place. In cases of cancer, or patient preference, the ovaries can be removed along with the uterus.
With incisions and recovery time similar to the hysterectomy, da Vinci myomectomy allows removal of fibroid tumors, leaving the normal uterus in place. The robotic arms and wristed instrument tips are uniquely suited for the precise dissection and suturing required to provide a safe and strong closure of the uterus. The myomectomy is most appropriate for patients interested in preserving fertility, but can be utilized in most cases of fibroids depending on patient preference. Although extremely large fibroids may still require an open incision, many patients can be given pre-operative medications to shrink these tumors, allowing the surgery to be done robotically.
- Cancer Surgery and Lymph Node Removal
For patients with a diagnosis of gynecologic cancer (uterine, cervical, and ovarian are the most common), the fear of what this diagnosis may mean is foremost in their thoughts. The good news is that most cases of uterine cancer, and many early cervical cancers can be completely cured through timely and careful surgery. These surgeries are complicated, involving removal of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, as well as some or all of the lymph nodes surrounding these organs. Because these lymph nodes extend further up into the abdomen, a very large incision from the pubic bone to above the navel has traditionally be required – resulting in prolonged hospital stays and slow recoveries. Many gynecologic cancer surgeons have now begun using the da Vinci robotic system for these surgeries, with superb results. One night hospital stays have now become commonplace, and many patients are back to full activities in several days.
What is Robotic & Minimally Invasive Surgery?
To fully understand the benefits of robotic and minimally invasive surgery, it is essential that women are first aware of the methods used during these procedures and how they differ from traditional surgeries for the same conditions.
Minimally invasive surgery refers to a procedure that employs new technologies and specialized methods to reduce the number and size of incisions made during an operation. For example, traditional surgery can involve making a number of cuts up to 12 inches long. By using small, high-definition cameras and other top-of-the-line instruments, surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery to reduce the size of incisions to as small as 10mm.
Robotic surgery is a particular type of minimally invasive surgery that involves robotic instruments and processes to minimize the degree to which patients need to be opened up during a procedure. Despite the use of robotics, our specialists are still in control of all procedures.
Benefits of da Vinci Surgical System
Our surgeons use the da Vinci robotic and minimally invasive surgical system, which offers the patient a number of benefits over traditional surgery. These surgical procedures can typically:
- Be more accurate, producing better outcomes
- Decrease women's operative physical and emotional trauma, including the amount of pain and blood loss experienced during surgery
- Reduce the risk of surgical complications and post-surgical complications, including scarring
- Shorten the amount of time women need to stay in the hospital
- Shorten a woman's recovery time as fewer, smaller incisions result in less, unnecessary tissue damage
To Learn More about Robotic & Minimally Invasive Surgery
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