Definition of robotic hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is surgery to remove your uterus (partial hysterectomy) or both your uterus and your cervix (total hysterectomy). If you need a hysterectomy, you may be eligible for robotic (robot-assisted) surgery. During robotic surgery, your doctor performs the hysterectomy with instruments that are passed through small abdominal incisions. The magnified, 3-D view makes possible great precision, flexibility and control.
When you have a minimally invasive hysterectomy, you’re likely to have less pain and lose less blood than is typical with open abdominal surgery. You’ll probably be able to resume normal daily activities more quickly than you could after open surgery.
Robotic hysterectomy can be an excellent choice if you aren’t a candidate for a vaginal hysterectomy. Your doctor may recommend a robotic procedure if you have surgical scars or an anatomical irregularity that limits your options.
To prepare you for a robotic hysterectomy, your doctor will:
- Make five small incisions in your abdomen
- Insert slender surgical instruments through those incisions
Incisions for a robotic procedure are much smaller than those used for open surgery, so you’ll have less tissue trauma and smaller scars than you’d have after a traditional abdominal hysterectomy.
During a robotic hysterectomy procedure:
- Your surgeon will use control devices to direct the surgical instruments that remove your uterus
- The robotic system translates your surgeon’s hand movements into precise movements at the instrument’s tip
- Your surgeon may also remove one or both ovaries and your fallopian tubes, depending on your condition
- An assistant at the operating table repositions instruments, adds or removes surgical devices, and provides other support to your surgeon as needed
- Members of the anesthesia team continually monitor your condition and comfort
What to expect
Different people recover at different rates, but staying in the hospital only one night is typical. While you’re in the hospital, treatment team members will monitor you to make sure you’re comfortable. You may receive medications to limit pain and prevent infection. You can expect light vaginal bleeding after your robotic hysterectomy.
After a hysterectomy you’ll no longer have menstrual periods. If your ovaries were also removed, you’ll have immediate menopause. You and your doctor will talk about the pros and cons of hormonal therapy.
You may need as long as six weeks to recover. While you’re recovering, your doctor may advise you to:
- Get plenty of rest
- Limit your physical activity
- Avoid heavy lifting
Ask your doctor when and how you can safely resume your physical activities as you heal. You can generally expect to return to work three to four weeks after your hysterectomy.
Regarding sexual activity, you’ll need to avoid intercourse for nine weeks after a robotic hysterectomy. You won’t be able to get pregnant after a hysterectomy. If your hysterectomy relieves chronic pain or heavy bleeding, you may experience an increase in sexual satisfaction.