Hysterectomy: Not Your Mother's Operation

Hysterectomy is the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States and an estimated one-third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60. Hysterectomy may be recommended for cancer or for a wide range of benign (non-cancerous) conditions that can affect a woman’s reproductive system. Most of these conditions affect the uterus, which is the hollow, muscular organ that holds a baby as it grows inside a pregnant woman. Common types of benign gynecologic conditions – such as fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterine wall), endometriosis (a non-cancerous condition in which uterine lining glands grow outside the uterus) or prolapse (falling or slipping of the uterus) – can cause chronic pain and heavy bleeding, as well as other disabling symptoms. Gynecological cancer can also be a concern.  The most common types of gynecologic cancers are cervical, endometrial (uterine) and ovarian cancer.

When medication and other treatments do not relieve symptoms from benign conditions, hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus – is often recommended. For women with cancer, the specific type of cancer a woman has and how advanced it is, will determine her available treatment options. Women with early stage gynecologic cancer are often treated with hysterectomy. During this procedure, the doctor may also remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes and/or select lymph nodes. Learn more... 


Female Reproductive Organs Read more about benign gynecologic conditions:

Read more about gynecologic cancer:

For comprehensive care of gynecologic cancer, Saint Francis surgeons collaborate closely with the Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center 

 Then & Now 

It was common practice for surgeons performing hysterectomies to make a large incision through the abdomen. Now, with the enhanced dexterity and ultimate precision of robotic arms, surgeons can perform hysterectomies through dime-size incisions. With the da Vinci® S™ Surgical System, surgeons are able to treat more complex, delicate cases through a minimally invasive approach while maintaining the same “look and feel” of open surgery. The da Vinci System is a state-of-the-art surgical platform with 3D, high-definition vision and miniaturized, surgical instruments designed to help doctors take surgery beyond the limits of the human hand. Through four dime-size incisions, surgeons insert the da Vinci instruments into the abdomen. The instruments have the same range of motion as a human hand, but with increased stability and precise accuracy. A camera with multiple lenses is attached to a third robotic hand and placed in the main incision. This gives the surgeon a magnified, three-dimensional view of the pelvic area. The surgeon sits at a remote console next to the patient, controlling the robot's every move while viewing the surgery on a computer monitor. Learn more about daVinci hysterectomy... 

What to Expect

Da Vinci hysterectomy takes between two and three hours. Once the surgery is completed, a patient can expect to spend one or two nights in the hospital, compared to the five days typical with open surgery. Recovery time with robotic surgery is reduced from 6 to 8 weeks to an average of 2 to 4 weeks.

Patient Benefits

Patients who have robotic surgery report:

  • smaller incisions
  • less pain
  • a shorter hospital stay
  • faster recovery time.