Gynecological surgery FAQs, part 2: Robotic surgery

September 25, 2019 Swedish Women's Health Team

Understand your choices when it comes to gynecological surgery. This is the second in a series of FAQs about minimally invasive and open surgeries.

[3 MIN READ]

Advances in gynecological surgeries provide more choices for addressing women’s health issues than ever before. Our three-part series on gynecological surgery outlines the types of surgery used in gynecological procedures—laparoscopic, robotic, and open surgery—and explains the benefits and risks of each.

Last month we outlined laparoscopy and how it’s used to limit the size and number of incisions needed to perform gynecology operations. This month we talked to Dr. Jessie Marrs, a gynecology specialist with Swedish, to take a closer look at robotic surgery and the role it plays in women’s health.

What is robotic surgery?

Robotic surgery is minimally invasive surgery that allows your surgeon to use a computer, robotic arms, a camera and tiny surgical instruments to complete a procedure. Unlike traditional minimally invasive surgery where your surgeon holds the instruments, in robotic surgery, your surgeon uses the computer to hold and manipulate the robotic arms that carry out the surgery. The robotic arms do not act independently—your surgeon is always in control, but the robot component allows greater precision.

“It’s not artificial intelligence doing surgery for me,” said Dr. Marrs. “It’s still me. I have complete control over the surgery.” 

  • During the procedure, your surgeon sits at a console that’s equipped with hand controls and foot pedals that are used to dictate the robot’s movements
  • Several small cuts (incisions) are made to allow your surgeon access to the area requiring care
  • A tiny camera is inserted through one of the incisions to give your surgeon a high definition, 3-D view of your internal organs
  • The robot’s movements correspond to your surgeon’s hand movements to perform the surgery
  • Foot pedals are used to control the camera and perform other functions needed during the surgery

What are the benefits of robotic surgery?

In many cases, the robot makes minimally invasive surgery even more precise. “Robotics is a tool we use that increases our chances of using minimally invasive surgery to offer more viable options for treatment,” said Dr. Marrs.

Many of the advantages of robotic surgery are similar to those you get from traditional minimally invasive surgery, according to Dr. Marrs.

Benefits for you include:

  • Faster recovery period
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Reduced risk of infection
  • Less pain
  • Minimal bleeding
  • Smaller scars

Robotic surgery has several benefits for your surgeon, which improves your care overall, according to Dr. Marrs. “It’s much more comfortable for me, which means I can do more for my patient,” she said.

Benefits for your surgeon include:

  • High definition, 3-D view for greater visibility and depth of vision
  • Improved wrist action, which improves dexterity and range of motion
  • Steady, tremor-free instrument control

Are there any risks with robotic surgery?

As with any operation, robotic surgery carries some risk, including:

  • Adverse reaction to medications
  • Breathing issues
  • Infection
  • Bleeding

What gynecologic surgeries are done using a robot?

Dr. Marrs does robot-assisted surgery for several procedures, including those she expects to be challenging. Procedures that are done robotically include but are not limited to:

How do I know if robotic surgery is right for me?

Determining which type of surgery is best for you depends on several factors including your overall health, the severity of your condition, and your age. Your doctor will help you better understand your options and make recommendations for choices that are right for you.

Find a doctor

Women’s health issues can be complicated to understand and challenging to overcome. The team at Swedish guides you through the healing process with kindness, respect, and advanced expertise. Find a doctor you can trust in our provider directory.

Related resources

Gynecological Surgery FAQs, Part I: Laparoscopy

Breaking the silence about pelvic pain

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee Opinion on Robotic Surgery in Gynecology

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

 

About the Author

Whether you are seeking gynecological advice, need help navigating your way through the menopause stage of life or researching a recent breast cancer diagnosis, the Swedish Women's Health Team is committed to helping women find the information they need to live happy and healthy lives.

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