It’s always nice to have choices,” says Nonnie-Marie Estella, MD, a gynecologic surgeon at Lowell General Hospital.
And now, when a woman is facing the need for a hysterectomy – the second-most common surgery for women in the U.S. – she has the option of having a robotically-assisted procedure that uses a single, small incision, making the operation virtually scarless.
In fact, Lowell General Hospital became one of the first hospitals in all of New England to perform what’s called a single-site robotic hysterectomy in late 2013. Using the daVinci Si® Robotic Surgical System, Dr. Estella removed a patient’s uterus through a one-inch incision in the patient’s belly button. Since then, the gynecologic surgeon has performed 10 more such minimally-invasive procedures.
“Using the single-site technique allows us to minimize the pain and bleeding associated with a traditional open hysterectomy, and increases the likelihood of a faster recovery,” Dr. Estella says. “The single incision in the belly button heals incredibly well and leaves no noticeable scar.”
Who is a candidate for the single-site robotic procedure?
“The only women who are not candidates are those who have very large uteruses, or whose anatomy is distorted from prior surgery,” Dr. Estella explains. “Otherwise, anyone who’s a candidate for hysterectomy is a candidate for this procedure.”
Hysterectomy may be recommended if a woman has been diagnosed with endometriosis, heavy menstrual bleeding (called menorrhagia), benign fibroid tumors, pelvic organ prolapse or cancer. There are several surgical approaches for performing hysterectomy available today, including traditional open surgery (involving a larger incision through the abdominal wall), vaginal, straight-stick laparoscopic and traditional robotic.
“With the new single-site robotic approach, I’m doing the same minimally invasive surgery with the same instruments used in multiple ports, but I’m able to do it with only one incision instead of several,” Dr. Estella says. “There’s no disadvantage or increased risk.” On the contrary, patients experience less pain and a better cosmetic result, she notes.
And, importantly, it gives women yet another surgical option when they need a hysterectomy.
“In general, women haven’t had as many choices as they do today,” Dr. Estella says. “We’re pleased to be among the first hospitals in New England to offer this choice.”
Lowell General’s robust minimally invasive surgical program offers robotic surgical options for a variety of gynecological, urological and general surgery procedures.