Megan Traquair’s life runs non-stop. She works full-time, and she and her husband are raising two teenagers. Her favorite relaxations are to garden, read and work out. Spare time? What’s that?
Recently, a visit to her gynecologist stopped her short. Tests revealed the need for a hysterectomy. The diagnosis was clear. Alternative procedures would not clear the problem.
Her mother had had the same operation at about the same age, so she knew that with her history, a hysterectomy was likely. Then last year, Megan’s symptoms increased over several months, and were leading her discussions with her doctor in that direction. Still, she was surprised when she learned it was time to go ahead with the surgery. Remembering her mother’s experience, with a long scar and long recovery time, she struggled with the timing.
With the busy Lenten season nearing, her duties as Pastor required her presence and participation.
Dr. Victor Chen, her gynecologist, explained that she was not a candidate for a vaginal hysterectomy. Instead, he offered her a new minimally invasive approach – a laparoscopic robotic-assisted hysterectomy, with a recovery time of two to four weeks, rather than six to eight weeks. The new da Vinci Robotic Surgery System, an endoscopic procedure, would mean just four tiny incisions, not the large incision her mother required.
Megan was already familiar with endoscopy, where a tiny camera inserted through a small tube focuses on the area requiring examination and projects it onto a screen. She’d had a previous endoscopic knee surgery and proudly reveals the tiny scars. She was not familiar with the da Vinci® robot, but she had developed trust in Chen, and his explanation of the new tools was thorough. Still, after leaving his office, the computer was her first stop, to explore additional information and options. She and her husband, a pediatrician, talked it over. With solid information and advice, she decided to have the hysterectomy right away.
From Chen’s perspective, the da Vinci Robotic Surgery System is a significant advance in women’s surgery. Four small plastic entry tubes (ports) are placed into abdominal incisions just half an inch long. Then the surgeon brings the robot alongside the patient and attaches robotic arms to the ports, one of which holds the camera. The surgeon moves to the computer console next to the operating table. With the camera providing enhanced 3D views of the surgical area, the surgeon’s hands at the console manipulate the robotic arms, which mimic the physician’s exact movements. With the da Vinci System, the surgeon can operate with greater precision and control than with traditional laparoscopic tools, which are more cumbersome.
Megan’s hysterectomy was a success in every way. The day of surgery went smoothly at Northwest Medical Center. Chen and his staff had ensured that the pre-admissions process, check-in and pre-op were comfortable and worry-free.
Once the hysterectomy was completed, Chen took an up-close look at the surrounding organs, which revealed they were pink and healthy, reassurance that was only possible with da Vinci System assistance.
“It was good stewardship of that surgery event,” Megan said. “It was trouble free.”
After one night in the hospital, Megan returned home, her four tiny incisions covered with the skin glue that takes the place of a dressing.
Feeling a little tired, she relaxed on the couch for a day or two. If she walked too much she noticed a bit of soreness and aching, but after two days, she was able to put away pain medication. Over the next week or two, if she over exerted, she felt aches in her pelvic area.
After two weeks, on Ash Wednesday, Megan was back at work with her congregation, preparing for the Lenten season.
Later, Megan summed up her experience.
“I found this to be excellent, effective and trouble-free,” she said. “The speedy recovery was absolutely key to me as a working mom. I would choose this option again and recommend it to a friend.”
(Editor’s Note: The certification for use of the da Vinci Surgery System is extensive. At Genesis OB/GYN in Northwest Tucson, certified surgeons include: Dr. Chen, Shawn Tassone, La Dea Women’s Health, and Catherine Westerband, M.D. For more information, call 795-0771, or visit www.genesisobgyn.net.)