I’d never heard of the da Vinci procedure until a friend suffering from bad fibroids said she was considering it to remove them. Surgical treatment for these uterine tumors often involve removing the entire uterus via hysterectomy.
Until recently, hysterectomy options included traditional surgery with a large open incision or laparoscopy. The Da Vinci surgery is now another option. It’s said to be a minimally invasive procedure requiring small incisions while allowing the surgeon a clear view of the surgical area.
The da Vinci is a robotic surgical system controlled by a surgeon. The surgeon sits at a console (typically in the same room as the patient) and looks at a 3-D image of the surgical area. The surgeon uses the controls – two foot pedals and two hand controllers – on the console. To move the instruments, the surgeon simply moves his or her hands.
The movements of the surgeon’s hands and fingers are simulated by the robotic arms which are inside the patient’s body. Three of the arms are for tools holding objects that act as a scalpel, scissors or other instruments. The fourth is for an endoscopic camera with two lenses that gives the surgeon full stereoscopic vision from the console.
Supporters said the da Vinci procedure offers all the potential benefits of a minimally invasive procedure, including less pain, less blood loss and less need for blood transfusions. It can also enable a shorter hospital stay, a quicker recovery and faster return to normal daily activities.
Critics said the da Vinci procedure is simply not necessary for a benign hysterectomy. They claim it requires at least four larger incisions and the operating time is much longer. Using the robot also adds significantly to the cost of the procedure. They counter that a laparoscopic hysterectomy generally involves three small incisions and take a lot less than an hour to perform unless there are adhesions or other complicating factors.
According to the manufacturer, it is called "da Vinci" in part because Leonardo da Vinci used anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details to bring his works to life.