BR doctor performs region's first single-incision hysterectomy

Up to 25 percent of women will need a hysterectomy in their lifetime due to various reasons including chronic pain or excessive bleeding.  Traditionally the surgery- which removes a woman's uterus- requires extensive recovery and leaves a massive scar.  However, an advanced piece of surgical technology is changing all that.

"It's a quantum shift in performing gynecological surgery," said board certified obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Edward Schwartzenburg.

While performing surgery with the help of a robot sounds like science fiction, Dr. Edward Schwartzenburg of Woman's Hospital has been performing robotic hysterectomies with the Da Vinci Surgical System for many years.  He says the robotic procedure greatly reduces scarring, risk of blood loss and recovery time.

"Patients were bouncing back so quickly that it became obvious that this was a great new procedure," said Schwartzenburg.

Now, robotic hysterectomies have taken another step forward.  Dr. Schwartzenburg recently performed the region's first single-incision hysterectomy.  For the surgery, one inch incision in made in the patient's belly button where a port or tube is placed.  The entire procedure can then be done through the port, with the robot's arms easily moving within the abdomen.

"The arms articulate on the inside. So, instead of those straight sticks that you're operating with laparoscopically, they have articulation in the arms and they can actually articulate more than my own hands.  It gives you really fine control over the surgery."

The only scar is easily hidden, and patients can recover within two weeks rather than nearly two months.  Only low-risk patients currently qualify for the procedure.

According to Woman's Hospital, the single-incision procedure was approved by the FDA in February 2013 to treat benign conditions.

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