If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with uterine fibroids and are searching for an alternative to a traditional hysterectomy, you might consider asking your surgeon if you could be a candidate for a robot-assisted myomectomy.
Many physicians from the University of Maryland Medical Center's Division of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Heath are performing this minimally invasive procedure to treat uterine fibroids and help patients get on the road to a quicker recovery with significantly less pain and fewer future complications.
Fibroids are noncancerous (benign) growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. While fibroids do not always cause symptoms, their size and location can lead to problems for some women.
The number of women who have fibroids increases with age until menopause. Twenty to 40 percent of women ages 35 and older have uterine fibroids of a significant size. African-American women are at a higher risk: as many as 50 percent have fibroids of a significant size. It is not known why, although genetic variability is thought to be a factor.
Most fibroids don't cause symptoms. However, depending on size, locations and number of fibroids, they may cause:
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods, which an lead to anemia
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Pain in the back and legs
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Bladder pressure leading to a frequent urge to urinate
- Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating
- Abnormally enlarged abdomen
There are medical, surgical and minimally invasive options to treat uterine fibroids.
- Medical treatments may include pain medications such as ibuprofen, birth control pills and hormone treatments.
- Surgical procedures may include myomectomy (removal of the fibroid tumor) or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and possibly ovaries).
- Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical way to shrink fibroids.
A robot-assisted myomectomy uses a state-of-the-art robotic surgical system to help surgeons remove fibroids while preserving the patient's uterus. The procedure begins with an examination of the uterus and fibroids. The surgeon controls the robotic instruments attached to the surgical system from a remotely positioned console. These instruments act as a computerized extension of the surgeon's hands, allowing the surgeon to separate the fibroids from the uterus and restore the patient's anatomy with unmatched surgical precision.
How does a robot-assisted myomectomy differ from traditional open surgery and laparoscopy?
A myomectomy performed through open surgery requires a large incision into the patient's abdomen, cutting through layers of skin and muscle in order to reach the affected area. This incision leaves patients with a large scar and varying amounts of abdominal muscle weakness following the procedure. Open surgery also increases the length of time needed for recovery and the risk for infection.
While laparoscopy can be a better alternative to open surgery, it is usually more challenging to the surgeon and can often take longer to perform than open surgery.
However, a robot-assisted myomectomy helps surgeons overcome many of the challenges associated with the laparoscopic approach to removing uterine fibroids. The surgical system used to perform the procedure affords surgeons a great level of precision and control when using its instruments. Potential uterine bleeding, infections and scarring are minimized.
Will my surgery be performed by a robot or a real surgeon?
The surgical system used to perform all robot-assisted procedures at UMMC cannot be programmed to perform surgery on its own. Every surgical maneuver performed by the robot must be controlled by a surgeon seated at the system's console.
Robot-Assisted Myomectomy Benefits
A robot-assisted myomectomy offers several benefits to the patient, including:
- Fewer surgical complications
- Less blood loss
- Minimal scarring
- Opportunity for future pregnancy
- Quicker recovery
- Shorter hospital stay
- Significantly less pain
Robot-Assisted Myomectomy Candidates
There are many factors to consider when deciding if you might be a good candidate for a robot-assisted myomectomy, including the size of your fibroids and your overall health. Be sure to discuss the benefits and the risks of this procedure with your surgeon.
Why Choose UMMC
The University of Maryland's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Health offers compassionate care from physicians with advanced surgical skills who have access to technology available at only a handful of medical centers in the country. Because there is no one type of surgery that is appropriate for all patients, we provide a variety of surgical options for patients in need of traditional and advanced surgical procedures. Patients have access to a multi-disciplinary treatment team who will help them formulate individualized treatment plans depending upon their specific condition, complaints, and preferences. At UMMC, this patient-centered treatment approach assures the most comprehensive and integrated care for your uterine fibroids.
To make an appointment, please call 667-214-1300 or 866-608-4228.