Ovarian cancer is always on Bonnie Carpenter’s mind. Her mother died after being diagnosed with the disease at age 48 – the same age Bonnie is now.
Bonnie doesn’t have ovarian cancer and likely never will, after undergoing a total hysterectomy on Valentine’s Day 2008.
“With Bonnie’s strong family history and recurring cysts, her increased risk of ovarian cancer was becoming more of a concern,” says obstetrician-gynecologist Andrea Messina, MD, Park Nicollet Clinic—Bloomington. “It got to the point where surgery was recommended.”
Dr. Messina has performed hundreds of hysterectomies, but this was her first time teaming up with the robotic da Vinci® S HD Surgical System.
The da Vinci advantage
“The da Vinci lets you see what you are doing so much better,” says Dr. Messina. “It gives you a 3D, magnified image of the surgical area. And the unique surgical instruments allow you to operate with even better dexterity than traditional open surgery.”
But unlike open surgery, Dr. Messina sits 10 feet away from the patient at a console. Special instruments mimic surgeon’s hand movements, but provide more precision, control and range of motion. “There also is reduced blood loss and the potential for less scar tissue developing, plus patients recover more quickly with less pain,” she says.
While some patients may be nervous about a surgeon being a few feet away, operating a robot, Dr. Messina is very reassuring. The procedure itself has not changed.
“I have been doing laparoscopic hysterectomies for many years. We are essentially doing the same procedure, but the da Vinci system is a new tool that allows us to offer the procedure to more patients and achieve better outcomes.”
With that new tool, it took Messina four hours to complete Bonnie’s surgery. It ended with good news – no cancer. Bonnie spent one night in the hospital.
Back to everyday routine in days
“My biggest fear about the surgery, besides the chance of finding cancer, was the recovery period,” Bonnie says. “I had laparoscopic surgery the year before to remove an ovary and it took three weeks before I felt better. But just four days after my da Vinci hysterectomy, I had very little pain and was walking on the treadmill at the gym.”
The quick recovery time and other benefits please Messina. “Patients are back on their feet faster, are off pain medications and back to work quicker,” she says. “You really feel like patients benefit from this technology.”
Bonnie couldn’t believe her quick recovery.
“It’s amazing how technology can make such a difference,” Bonnie says. “I’ve talked to other women who’ve had hysterectomies and it took them six weeks to recover. I wish every woman facing a hysterectomy could have one performed with the help of a da Vinci.”
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