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Summer 2007

Robotic Instruments Enhance Gynecologic Surgeries

The use of robotic instruments to guide minimally invasive surgery is bringing new benefits to women who undergo gynecologic operations, including less pain, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery time, according to Robin Farias- Eisner, M.D., Ph.D., chief of gynecologic oncology at UCLA.

Robotic surgery, a minimally invasive technique similar to laparoscopy, places through needle-sized holes in the patient's body a tiny camera to obtain clear pictures, and probes to carry out the surgery. The difference is that instead of directly grasping the probes, the surgeon sits at a console with a threedimensional view inside the patient and manipulates robotic arms that hold the probes. The instruments act like human wrists, giving surgeons greater flexibility as they use the robot to move the tiny surgical tools inside the body.

"The same skill set that is used for open surgery is applied to the robotic procedures," says Dr. Farias-Eisner, who performed the first robotic supracervical hysterectomy in California—a cervix-sparing procedure for patients at high risk for developing ovarian cancer. "The surgeon is still present in the room with the patient, but the robotic arms give us more degrees of freedom to move the probes." UCLA uses robotics for a variety of gynecologic surgeries, both as a staging procedure for malignancies and for benign procedures. Dr. Farias-Eisner notes that certain patients, including those who have substantial scarring from previous surgeries, may not be good candidates for the robotic approach.

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