Robotic Assisted Surgery Offers Less Invasive Options

By now, many of us have seen ads for something called “robotic surgery.” While that term may conjure mental images of R2-D2 in the hospital operating room, robotic assisted surgery is actually an innovative technology that helps physicians by providing greater dexterity and visualization during certain surgical procedures. The surgeon is in complete control of the robotic technology, which translates hand motions into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body.

Robotic surgery allows some gynecologic procedures to be done through multiple small incisions rather than a large abdominal incision. The less invasive procedure provides shorter hospitalization, less discomfort, and, in many cases, faster recovery. Traditional laparoscopy is also a minimally invasive approach that is appropriate for many gynecologic procedures. Women’s Care physician Melissa Edwards, MD, explains that there are instances in which robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery may be a preferred option since it allows better
visualization, 3-D imagery and high-definition resolution and magnification. Also, traditional laparoscopic techniques tend to restrict the surgeon’s use of his or her wrists when operating. This tends to limit the types of surgeries that can be performed with laparoscopy alone. Robotic assistance restores the surgeon’s full use of the wrists making it possible to perform more intricate procedures.

According to Dr. Edwards, robotic surgery is often the most appropriate approach for the following procedures:
• Cancer operations that require extensive surgery and removal of lymph nodes
• Hysterectomy due to extensive endometriosis
• Hysterectomy due to a markedly enlarged uterus
• Hysterectomy in a women who has had multiple C-sections
• Myomectomy, a procedure to remove uterine fibroids from the wall or the outside of the uterus
• Sacrocolpopexy, a procedure to repair prolapse of pelvic organs
When recommending surgery to a patient, Dr. Edwards says her goal is to choose the least invasive approach possible based on each woman’s individual medical condition and prior history. The traditional open-abdominal approach is the most invasive technique available, so any time a procedure can be performed vaginally or with laparoscopy, the patient can expect a number of benefits. That said, there are still instances in which an open procedure is the most appropriate option. The decision is best made by each woman in consultation with her gynecologist.

All Women’s Care physicians are highly trained and very skilled gynecologic surgeons; several of them have been trained in robotic-assisted surgery, providing another tool at our disposal. Because we’re concerned about the escalating costs of health care, we’re committed to the most prudent and evidence-based use of new technology, including robotic surgery. We understand that new technologies offer clear advantages in some circumstances, but at the same time, most women will be very well served by conventional surgical techniques.

According to Dr. Edwards, “Our surgeons have the entire gamut of technology and skills in their little black bag; we diligently choose the ones that are most appropriate for the individual patient. We have an open discussion with the patient to outline her options and to help her make an informed decision. In the end, we honor the patient’s preferences.”

To learn more about robotic surgeries, visit

To read a news release about robotic surgery published by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, visit