Gynecologic cancers remain one of the most common reasons for women to undergo hysterectomies in the United States. For generations, these surgeries were all done through an open incision process that required longer hospitalizations, more scarring, and longer times away from work and family. That approach to surgery began to change around the late 90’s when surgeons began looking at less invasive approaches to these significant operations. One of the most amazing advances in the management of gynecologic cancers came with the introduction of robotics. It suddenly afforded much greater manual dexterity and the ability to perform complicated lymph node dissections for these cancers without the use of large incisions.
The first program to go live at Prisma Health in robotics was in Gynecologic Oncology. Today the program has three fully trained surgeons who utilize robotics not only to cure the cancers, but to also lessen the recovery time from such major operations. At present, far more than half of our endometrial cancers (the most common of the gynecologic cancers) are performed by robotic surgery.
Robotic surgery can also be beneficial in radical hysterectomies for cervical cancer and operations for masses (benign or malignant). Most patients have about five small incisions that are a half inch across or less. You can expect to stay in the hospital overnight, but some are ready to go home the same day.
In 2018 Prisma Health added the unique feature of “Firefly” technology which allows for the use of what is called “Sentinel Node Biopsies.” With the addition of a dye, our surgeons can now identify immediately at the time of surgery the most likely lymph nodes that may be involved in the cancerous process, and if there is spread to them.
- More accurate identification of cancerous spread
- Less lymphedema
- Quicker recovery