Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery

da Vinci surgery at a glance

The da Vinci Surgical System assists in minimally invasive surgeries by translating the surgeon’s hand movements to robotically control small instruments used in the surgical procedure.

Dr. Susan P. Willman uses the da Vinci Surgical System, when it is appropriate, for patients undergoing gynecologic surgeries to preserve reproductive function for:

Difference between minimally invasive & open surgery

Open surgery requires a large incision so the surgeon can use her/his hands and instruments to reach the patient’s organs. Open surgery typically requires overnight hospital stays and a long recovery period for the patient.

For example, in reproductive medicine, gynecologists traditionally have used open surgery for a myomectomy, an operation to remove uterine fibroids. An open-surgery myomectomy usually requires a five-inch incision and requires the patient to spend several days in the hospital and up to eight weeks of recovery.

In contrast, minimally invasive surgery for fibroids usually requires only a few tiny incisions, each less than an inch long, and only two weeks for recovery.

Laparoscopic surgery is the most common form of minimally invasive surgery, involving small incisions and the use of a tiny video camera and smaller instruments.

The da Vinci method is beneficial for complex surgeries because it allows the surgeon to perform precise movements in small and difficult-to-access areas. The surgeon is in complete control of the da Vinci System: no robotic action occurs without direction by the surgeon.

The surgeon sits at a console nearby the patient bed and looks into a viewer that provides 3D high-definition images of the surgical field via a small camera. The robotic arms hold instruments that are positioned above the patient, and the surgeon operates the controls for the arms/instruments. (The bed is not a part of the system. The “robotic arms” (also called the patient cart) is the special part of the da Vinci system).

Guided by the surgeon’s hand movements, a variety of EndoWrist® instruments attached to the robotic arms perform surgical functions on the patient, including incisions, suturing, clamping and handling tissue. These robotically manipulated instruments can execute greater range of motion and more precise actions than the human hand can accomplish.

Benefits of da Vinci uterine surgery

  • Faster recovery – two weeks versus up to eight weeks for open surgery.
  • Minimal scars – incisions are usually about one-half to three-quarters inch long.
  • Better pain control
  • Minimized blood loss
  • Fewer post-operative complications
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Fewer overnight hospital stays – about half of uterine-surgery patients go home the same day; the rest usually go home the next day.