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Robot assists laparoscopic surgery

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Raquel Harper

An estimated one out of nine American women will undergo a hysterectomy, a surgery to remove all or some of the uterus, at some point in their lifetime. Ten percent of these women will develop vaginal vault prolapse. Currently, transabdominal sacrocolpopexy is the most effective treatment option, but it is associated with increased morbidity compared with vaginal repairs, and many patients cannot tolerate the surgery. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently evaluated the use of robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery for treating vaginal vault prolapse.

The procedure involved using a computer-based system consisting of two robotic arms, a camera arm and a remote control with three-dimensional vision. The robot used instruments that provided the same flexibility as the human wrist. During the surgery, the motions of the surgeon at the remote control unit were replicated by the robotic arms placed within the patient. Technically difficult aspects of the procedure, such as tying several knots, were both faster and easier with the robot.

Effective procedure

For the study, 30 patients with vaginal vault prolapse underwent the procedure and 21 of these were analyzed about 24 months after surgery. Twenty of the 21 patients were discharged from the hospital after an overnight stay and reported being satisfied with the outcome of the surgery.

The researchers believe that their results support the procedure’s use for effective treatment of posthysterectomy vaginal vault prolapse because it results in shorter overall recovery time, less postsurgery bleeding and less pain for the patients than the traditional procedure.

Journal of Urology, August 2006, pp. 655-659

Oct 2006

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