When medication and non-invasive procedures are unable to relieve symptoms, surgery remains the accepted and most effective treatment for a range of gynecologic conditions. These include, but are not limited to, cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and menorrhagia or excessive bleeding.
Fortunately, less invasive surgical options are available. Some gynecologic procedures enable surgeons to access the target anatomy using a vaginal approach, which may not require an external incision. But for complex hysterectomies and other gynecologic procedures, robot-assisted surgery with the da Vinci® Surgical System may be an effective, least invasive treatment option. Through tiny, 1-2 cm incisions, surgeons using the da Vinci System can operate with greater precision and control, minimizing the pain and risk associated with large incisions while increasing the likelihood of a fast recovery and excellent clinical outcomes.
When a woman faces a medical condition that affects her uterus, the hollow, muscular organ that holds and feeds a fertilized egg, the emotional impact can often be as challenging as the physical. These conditions include, but are not limited to, cervical and uterine cancers such as endometrial cancer, uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, excessive bleeding and endometriosis.
Treatment options are as varied as the conditions themselves, depending on individual circumstances. A woman’s age, health history, surgical history and diagnosis (benign or cancerous), all factor into the recommended course of action.
Endometriosis, also known as endometrial hyperplasia, is a condition in which the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, causing scarring, pain, and heavy bleeding. It can often damaging the fallopian tubes and ovaries in the process. A common organic cause of infertility, endometriosis can be treated with medications such as lupron for endometriosis that lowers hormone levels and decreases endometrial growths. While such medications often relieve associated symptoms, a patient should understand the potential side effects before pursuing this treatment regimen.
For endometrial cancer, also known as uterine cancer and more common among women after menopause, standard treatment options include hormone therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). Three of these — radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hysterectomy — are also used to treat cervical cancer.
For benign (non-cancerous) conditions like menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), non-surgical treatments like hormone therapy or minimally invasive ablative therapies may offer relief. For fibroids, uterine-preserving myomectomy – a surgical alternative to hysterectomy -- may be an option.
Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors occurring in at least one quarter of all women.1 They can grow underneath the uterine lining, inside the uterine wall, or outside the uterus.
Many women don’t feel any symptoms with uterine tumors or fibroids. But for others, these fibroids can cause excessive menstrual bleeding (also called menorrhagia), abnormal periods, uterine bleeding, pain, discomfort, frequent urination and infertility.
Treatments include uterine fibroid embolization – which shrinks the tumor – and surgery. Surgical treatment for uterine tumors most often involves the surgeon removing the entire uterus, via hysterectomy.
While hysterectomy is a proven way to resolve fibroids, it may not be the best surgical treatment for every woman. There are alternatives to hysterectomy like myomectomy. Myomectomy is a uterine-preserving procedure performed to remove uterine fibroids.
Types of Myomectomy
Each year, roughly 65,000 myomectomies are performed in the U.S. The conventional approach to myomectomy is open surgery, through a large abdominal incision. After cutting around and removing each uterine fibroid, the surgeon must carefully repair the uterine wall to minimize potential uterine bleeding, infection and scarring. Proper repair is also critical to reducing the risk of uterine rupture during future pregnancies. Menorrhagia is extensive menstrual bleeding.
A new category of minimally invasive myomectomy, da Vinci® Myomectomy, combines the best of open and laparoscopic surgery. With the assistance of the da Vinci Surgical System – the latest evolution in robotics technology – surgeons may remove uterine fibroids through small incisions with precision and control.
If your doctor recommends hysterectomy, you may be a candidate for da Vinci Hysterectomy, one of the most effective, least invasive treatment options for a range of uterine conditions. da Vinci Hysterectomy is performed using the da Vinci™ Surgical System, which enables surgeons to perform with unmatched precision and control – using only a few small incisions.
For most patients, da Vinci Hysterectomy can offer numerous potential benefits over traditional approaches to vaginal, laparoscopic or open abdominal hysterectomy, particularly when performing more challenging procedures like radical hysterectomy for gynecologic cancer. Potential benefits include:
- Significantly less pain
- Less blood loss
- Fewer complications
- Less scarring
- A shorter hospital stay
- A faster return to normal daily activities
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is both patient- and procedure-specific. While radical hysterectomy or abdominal hysterectomy performed using the da Vinci Surgical System are considered safe and effective, these procedures may not be appropriate for every individual. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.
If you are a candidate for hysterectomy, talk to a gynecologist or gynecologic oncologist (a cancer specialist) who performs da Vinci Hysterectomy.