A wide variety of benign (non-cancerous) conditions can affect a woman’s reproductive system, which consists of the uterus, the vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Most of these conditions affect the uterus, which is the hollow, muscular organ that holds a baby as it grows inside a pregnant woman.
Common types of gynecologic conditions like fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterine wall), endometriosis (non-cancerous growths of the uterine lining) or prolapse (falling or slipping of the uterus) can cause chronic pain and heavy bleeding, as well as other disabling symptoms.
Women who experience these symptoms are often treated with hysterectomy - the surgical removal of the uterus. In fact, this procedure is the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States, and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60.
Your doctor might recommend a hysterectomy to treat your condition. Hysterectomy can sometimes be performed through the vagina. However, when the uterus is large or if you have internal scarring from prior surgery or other conditions, abdominal hysterectomy is usually performed.
Traditionally, abdominal hysterectomies are performed with open surgery, which requires a wide incision below the navel. This procedure can be painful, involving heavy pain medications, risk of infection and significant blood loss. After surgery, a long recovery (often 6 weeks) is necessary. In addition, many patients are not happy with the scar left by the incision.
While hysterectomy is a relatively safe procedure, it may not be appropriate or necessary for all individuals or conditions. Alternative treatments that preserve the uterus may be available. For example, Myomectomy may be an option for women with fibroids who want to preserve their fertility and/or uterus. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.
da Vinci Hysterectomy
A Less Invasive Surgical Procedure
If your doctor recommends hysterectomy, you may be a candidate for an innovative, less invasive surgical procedure called da Vinci Hysterectomy. This procedure uses a state-of-the-art surgical system designed to help your doctor perform the most precise and least invasive hysterectomy available today.
For most women, da Vinci Hysterectomy offers numerous potential benefits over traditional surgical approaches, including:
- Significantly less pain
- Less blood loss and need for transfusion
- Less risk of infection
- Shorter hospital stay
- Quicker recovery and return to normal activities
- Small incisions for minimal scarring
- Better outcomes and patient satisfaction, in many cases
As with any surgery, these benefits cannot be guaranteed, as surgery is patient- and procedure-specific.