A wide variety of conditions affect the uterus, or womb. The uterus is a hollow, muscular organ which holds and feeds a fertilized egg. Traditionally, many conditions affecting the uterus are treated with hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus. U.S. doctors perform about 600,000 hysterectomies every year, making it the second most common surgical procedure.
Hysterectomy may offer a life-saving treatment with serious conditions such as cancer or uncontrollable bleeding. In most cases, however, hysterectomy is an elective procedure performed to relieve chronic pain, bleeding or other disabling conditions. These may be caused by fibroids (noncancerous tumors); endometriosis (noncancerous growth of the uterine lining) or prolapse (falling or slipping of the uterus).
Hysterectomy can sometimes be performed through the vagina. However, when the uterus is enlarged – for example, from fibroids or cancer – an abdominal hysterectomy is preferable. This requires a 6-12 inch incision. In some cases, doctors also remove the ovaries because they are thought to release hormones contributing to the condition.
While hysterectomy is relatively safe, it may not be appropriate or necessary for all individuals or conditions. Alternative treatments that can preserve the uterus and ovaries may be available. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.
da Vinci Hysterectomy
If your doctor recommends hysterectomy, you may be a candidate for a new, less invasive surgical procedure called da Vinci Hysterectomy. This procedure uses a state-of-the-art surgical system designed to help your surgeon perform a more precise, minimally invasive procedure, which enables surgeons to perform with unmatched precision and control – using only a few small incisions.
In some cases, surgeons may be able to offer a uterine-preserving procedure as an alternative to hysterectomy. These include myomectomy or sacrocolpopexy, which can also be performed using the da Vinci Surgical System in a minimally invasive approach.
da Vinci Myomectomy
One alternative to hysterectomy is myomectomy – or surgical removal of uterine fibroids. It is estimated that up to one third of all hysterectomies are performed for this reason. Myomectomy preserves the uterus, and so it may be recommended for women who wish to become pregnant. About 65,000 myomectomies are performed annually in the United States.
da Vinci Sacrocolpopexy
Sacrocolpopexy is a procedure designed to surgically correct vaginal vault prolapse. In this procedure, surgical mesh is used to hold the vagina in the correct anatomical position. This procedure can also be performed following a hysterectomy in order to treat uterine prolapse and provide long-term support for the vagina.
For most women, da Vinci Surgery offers numerous potential benefits over traditional surgical approaches, including:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Less pain
- Faster recovery
- Quicker return to normal activities
- Less risk of wound infection
- Less blood loss
- Less scarring