University Hospitals Launches First Women's Robotic Surgery Program

Armen Hareyan's picture

University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital has established the region's first robotic surgery program, expanding the use of minimally invasive techniques for more women. Hysterectomies, gynecologic cancer surgery and uterine fibroid removal are among the numerous women's health surgical procedures that specialists at UH can perform using the state-of-the-art da Vinci Surgical System.

The da Vinci, a sophisticated robot specifically designed to enable complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach, offers patients less scarring, shorter hospital stays, less post-operative pain and quicker recovery. Surgeons using the da Vinci operate with high-definition 3D visualization and an innovative wrist-like instrument that allows for greater surgical precision and control over traditional open and laparoscopic surgery.

"The robot seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient," says Vivian Von Gruenigen, MD, director of robotic surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Many surgical procedures performed today using standard laparoscopic technique may be performed more quickly and easily using the da Vinci Surgical System. This is because the robot delivers increased clinical capability while maintaining the same 'look and feel' of traditional open surgery."


Along with a team of surgical specialists from MacDonald Women's Hospital and Ireland Cancer Center of UH Case Medical Center, Dr. Von Gruenigen has developed this first in the region women's health robotic surgery program. She is one of six women's healthcare specialists, including four gynecologic oncologists, a reproductive surgeon and a urogynecologist - a full women's service line - who are performing robotic-assisted surgery. UH Case Medical Center is also offering the robotic surgery for urologic procedures.

"Today the main applications in gynecology are in hysterectomy, female cancers, reproductive surgery, uterine fibroids and uterine prolapse," says Dr. Von Gruenigen, who is also associate professor at Case Western Reserve University and one of the first gynecologic oncologists in Ohio to use robotic surgery. "Anything you can do through a laparoscope, you can do with a robot with better visualization and accuracy. The robot has been more traditionally used for prostate cancer treatment but this new women's health program is truly unique for our female patients."

For patients, robotic-assisted surgery offers many benefits when compared to traditional open surgery. The incisions are approximately 1 centimeter compared to a 10-12 centimeter incision with an open procedure and there is less pain, reduced risk of infection, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and quicker return to normal activities.

"Women today lead incredibly busy lives," says Dr. Von Gruenigen. "Having surgery can be stressful, but a da Vinci surgery has the ability to reduce the anxiety and side effects, getting the patient back to enjoying life without worrying about complications. In addition, the small surgical incisions are cosmetically appealing."