A hysterectomy removes part or all of a woman’s uterus. The fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed. There are many reasons a hysterectomy may be performed, such as for endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain, cancer, or abnormal bleeding. Usually, a hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions should be considered after all less invasive options are considered.
The most common type of hysterectomy is open abdominal surgery. There are also what are known as minimally invasive procedures (MIP) for hysterectomies. Hysterectomies can also be done through a surgical cut in the vagina and by laparoscope, a tube with a lighted camera, and surgical tools inserted through several small incisions in the abdomen. Vaginal hysterectomies may also be laparoscopic-assisted.
Alternatives to Surgery
There are several less-invasive options for treating painful uterine fibroids that cause bleeding. Uterine artery embolization (UAE) or uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is where small particles are injected into the uterine arteries feeding the fibroids, cutting off their blood supply. A hysteroscopy inserts a thin, telescope-like instrument through the vagina if the fibroid is primarily within the uterine cavity. Medication for pain, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or drugs that block the ovaries’ production of estrogen and other hormones, may also be effective.
Da Vinci Robot Surgery Manufacturer’s Claims
The da Vinci surgical system is a less invasive procedure used to treat various conditions. The technique combines computer and robotic technologies. Da Vinci touts itself as allowing major surgery with only a few tiny incisions, giving surgeons better visualization, precision, dexterity, and control than traditional surgical approaches.
The da Vinci’s manufacturer – and even hospitals- claim that:
Robot-assisted surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System may be the most effective, least invasive treatment option for complex hysterectomies and other gynecologic procedures. Through tiny, 1-2 cm incisions, surgeons using the da Vinci System can operate with greater precision and control, minimizing the pain and risk associated with large incisions while increasing the likelihood of a fast recovery and excellent clinical outcomes.
There is some truth to this. This might well be true in the hands of the best and most experienced surgeons. But most surgeons need to gain the skill and experience to use it effectively. Da Vinci’s manufacturer knows this full well.
OB/GYNs Are Fighting Back the Da Vinci Surgery Marketing Hype
Maybe you want to avoid taking a plaintiffs’ attorneys’ word for it. How about a great doctor? On March 14, 2013, Dr. James Breeden, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), stated the use of robotic surgery. Dr. Breeden was worried about the effects of marketing and advertising promoting robotic surgery on women facing hysterectomies. Dr. Breeden said:
Some da Vinci robotic surgery cases may be close to a settlement. There are no guarantees. But they may begin to resolve pretty soon. For more information, call 800-553-8082 or get more information here.
Robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach for hysterectomy. Nor is it the most cost-efficient. When considering the best surgical approach for hysterectomies, it is essential to separate the marketing hype from reality.
Well said. There is no question that money is a driving force behind all of this. Of course, da Vinci’s manufacturer wants to sell as many of these as possible. Hospitals get more patients – which means more money – by touting their latest “state-of-the-art” equipment. Like many of these cases, the problems begin when companies and hospitals start putting profits ahead of people.
Doctors Using Da Vinci Surgery Do Not Get Enough Training
Dr. Breeden recognized that the outcome of surgery depends on the surgeon’s skill, that surgical skill takes experience, and that robotic surgery is relatively new. Dr. Breeden says:
Expertise with robotic hysterectomy is limited and varies widely among hospitals and surgeons. While there may be some advantages to using robotics in complex hysterectomies, especially for cancer operations requiring extensive surgery and removal of lymph nodes, studies have shown that adding this expensive technology for routine surgical care does not improve patient outcomes. Consequently, no good data is proving that robotic hysterectomy is even as good as—let alone better—than existing, and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives.
- In 2023, hair relaxer lawsuits alleged uterine fibroids or uterine cancer caused the victim to require a hysterectomy
Da Vinci Robots Are Defective
Da Vinci robotic surgery is not only dangerous because the doctors who use them are inadequately trained, but they are also defective in the way they are designed and manufactured.
The da Vinci robots were not designed with sufficient insulation to protect against electrical currents. This lack of insulation can cause severe surgical burns from too much current during use. In one case, it even led to the death of a 24-year-old woman undergoing a hysterectomy, where an electrical current jumped from the da Vinci to the patient, severely burning her intestines and arteries and causing her death two weeks after surgery.
It should be done if there is a better, safer way to manufacture the device. They are working on it, but they have to get this right. Also, the manufacturers of the da Vinci need to give healthcare professionals information about these risks. In turn, doctors and hospitals need to adequately warn their patients about these risks. Some of these required warnings may include the dangers of using the device without adequate training and an idea of what amount and forms of training are acceptable.