What is a robotic hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman's uterus. This surgery can be done
through small incisions using a thin, lighted scope with a camera on the end (a laparoscope).
This is called a laparoscopic hysterectomy.
In robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy, the surgeon uses a computer to control
the surgical instruments. The computer station is in the operating room. The surgeon
is able to control the robot's movements steadily and precisely. This lets him or
her get into tiny spaces more easily and have a better view of the operation than
with conventional laparoscopic surgery. This procedure continues to be researched
to improve the technique.
Why might I need a robotic hysterectomy?
Your surgeon may recommend this surgery if you have a problem with your uterus that
has not responded to other treatments. Here are some common reasons why a hysterectomy
- Non-cancerous fibroid tumors
- Cancerous tumors
- Uterine prolapse (your uterus has slipped down into your vagina)
- Endometriosis (cells from the lining of your uterus grow outside your uterus, causing
pain and bleeding)
- Other causes of long-term abnormal uterine bleeding
- Chronic pelvic pain
Some reasons why robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy may be recommended:
- You will have smaller incisions than in an open type of hysterectomy.
- You may have less pain and a shorter hospital stay after surgery.
- Your recovery may be easier.
- Your risk for complications like bleeding or infection may be less.
What are the risks of a robotic hysterectomy?
Robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy is a safe procedure, but all surgeries
carry some risks. You will need to sign a consent form that explains the risks and
benefits of the surgery. You will also want to discuss these risks and benefits with
your surgeon. Some potential risks of hysterectomy done by any technique include:
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Damage to other organs inside the abdomen
- Blood clots that form in your legs and may travel to your lungs
An additional risk of robotic surgery:
- Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgery may take longer than other types of surgery.
This means that you are under anesthesia longer. This may increase some of your surgical
There may be other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to
discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
How do I prepare for a robotic hysterectomy?
Sometime before the day of your surgery you will need a physical exam. Your surgeon
may also order tests, such as blood tests, a chest X-ray, or an electrocardiogram
(ECG) to check on your general health. Be sure to tell your surgeon about any medicines you
take at home, including herbal supplements and other over-the-counter medicines. You
may be told to stop taking aspirin or other medicine that thins your blood and may
Other points to go over:
- Tell your healthcare provider if you or someone in your family has any history of
reaction to general anesthesia.
- If you smoke, you may have to stop smoking well before surgery.
- On the day and night before surgery you will be given instructions on when to stop
eating and drinking. If you are having general anesthesia, it is common to have nothing
to eat or drink after midnight or for at least 8 hours before surgery.
- Ask your surgeon if you should take your regular medicines with a small sip of water
on the morning of the procedure.
What happens during a robotic hysterectomy?
This surgery is usually done under general anesthesia. So, you will be asleep during
surgery. Before the procedure:
- You will have an intravenous line (IV) started so you can receive fluids and medicine to
make you relaxed and sleepy.
- If you are having general anesthesia, medicine may be given through the IV to put
you to sleep.
- A tube may be inserted in your throat to give you anesthesia and help you breathe
while you are asleep.
- You may be given antibiotics before surgery.
- You may have a catheter tube placed into your bladder to drain urine.
- You may have special stockings placed on your legs to help prevent blood clots.
Surgery time may range from 3 to 4 hours.
This is what may happen during the surgery:
- Three or 4 small incisions are made near your belly button.
- Gas may be pumped into your belly to inflate it and give your surgeon a better view
and more room to work.
- The laparoscope is inserted into your abdomen. Other surgical instruments are inserted
through the other incisions.
- Your surgeon attaches the laparoscope and the instruments to the robotic arms of the
- Your surgeon moves to the control area to remotely control the surgery.
- Your uterus is cut into small pieces that can be removed through the small incisions.
- During laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy your uterus may be taken out through
- Depending on the reasons for your hysterectomy, the whole uterus may be removed or
just the part above the cervix. The tubes and ovaries attached to the uterus may also
- After surgery, the incisions are closed with 1 or 2 stitches and covered with small
What happens after a robotic hysterectomy?
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room to be watched as you recover
from the anesthesia. Most people stay in the hospital for a few days. During your
hospital stay this is what may happen:
- Expect some pain after this procedure. You may be given pain medicine through your
- Your IV will be removed once you can drink fluids and your bowels are starting to
- You will be given additional pain medicine by mouth or by injection as needed.
- Once your IV is removed and you are passing gas, you can start a normal diet.
- Your bladder catheter will be removed in 1 or 2 days.
- You may have bleeding from your vagina that requires the use of pads.
- You will be encouraged to get up and walk as soon as you are able. This helps prevent
blood clots from forming in your legs.
- You may be given medicine that also helps prevent blood clots.
- Caregivers will help you with your bathroom and wound care.
Once you go home, it’s important to follow all of your surgeon's instructions and
keep your follow-up appointments. Take any medicine as directed. Some pain during
early recovery is normal. Ask your surgeon what to take for pain.
Here is what you can expect during recovery at home:
- You should be able to gradually return to your normal diet.
- Your incision areas should be kept dry for a few days. Follow your surgeon's instructions
on bathing and dressing care. You may need to go back to have your stitches removed.
- Keep walking. You should gradually be able to resume normal activities in a few days.
- Avoid heavy lifting for a few weeks. Ask your surgeon when you can return to specific
- You may continue to have light bleeding from your vagina for several days.
- You may be instructed not to put anything into your vagina for up to 6 weeks.
- Complete recovery may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Tell your surgeon about any of the following during recovery:
- Increasing pain or pain that is not relieved by medication
- Any drainage, bleeding, redness, or swelling from your incision areas
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Pain or swelling in your legs
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
In addition to the physical symptoms of recovery, you may have emotional symptoms
after this surgery. After hysterectomy you will no longer be able to get pregnant
and your periods will stop. Some women feel sad for these losses.
If you have had your ovaries removed as part of your surgery, you may notice symptoms
of menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Some women may benefit from
hormone therapy after hysterectomy. Discuss this with your doctor.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
- The name of the test or procedure
- The reason you are having the test or procedure
- What results to expect and what they mean
- The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
- What the possible side effects or complications are
- When and where you are to have the test or procedure
- Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
- What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
- Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
- When and how will you get the results
- Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
- How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure