Minimally-invasive da Vinci® surgery helps women with gynecological cancers
In 2006, Cabell Huntington Hospital became the first in the region to offer da Vinci® surgery, a minimally invasive, robotic surgical option, to its patients.
“Robotic surgery is essentially the next step in laparoscopy; it is a vast improvement,” explains Dr. Gerard Oakley, a gynecologic oncologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The da Vinci® system has added the ability to give a limited instrument much more movement, which gives the surgeon a greater level of control and precision.”
Cabell Huntington now has a team of highly trained surgeons that uses the da Vinci® Surgical System for general, abdominal, urologic and gynecologic procedures. Oakley is the region’s only gynecological cancer surgeon trained in the da Vinci® system.
“At first, I was skeptical about robotic surgery. I did not see a measurable advantage over conventional surgery,” he says. “But then I spoke to others in the field and watched some surgeries where the da Vinci® system was being used. I became convinced that it is a useful method in certain circumstances.”
In this type of procedure, the surgeon uses the da Vinci® console to maneuver four robotic arms that hold micro-instruments and an endoscopic camera. A 3D image of the surgical site is shown on the console as the surgeon uses the robotic arms to operate inside the body. The surgeon controls all movement of the robot with his or her hands, and the system has built-in safety features that reduce unsteadiness.
The da Vinci® system offers certain benefits compared to traditional surgery.
“The use of this tool can result in to shorter hospitalization time and less postoperative pain,” describes Oakley. “The da Vinci® system also makes smaller incisions, which lessens tissue manipulation. This decreases blood loss, the risk of requiring a transfusion and visible scars.”
In gynecology, the most common candidates for this type of surgery are women with endometrial and certain types of cervical cancer.
“Not everyone is a candidate,” Dr. Oakley explains. “But, it can typically be used in hysterectomies and surgeries that are necessary when someone has ovarian and uterine masses.” Oakley has also seen the da Vinci system play a significant role in patients that are predisposed to ovarian cancer.
Yet, even with its advantages, robotic surgery is an option, not a substitute.
“It’s another tool that we have available, and in the right selection of patients, it is very valuable to shorten their recovery from surgery.” Oakley stresses. “But it does not always replace conventional surgery.”
With the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System, Cabell Huntington continues to provide its patients the latest in medical technology. The Hospital is increasing its offerings in this area and training other physicians with its newly purchased da Vinci® Simulator.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 304.399.6600.
PHYSICIAN: Gerard Oakley, MD
SPECIALTY: Gynecologic Oncology
BOARD CERTIFICATION: American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology
FELLOWSHIP: Gynecologic Oncology, University of Minnesota
MEMBERSHIPS: American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Society of Gynecologic Oncologists
PROCEDURES: Surgical treatment for gynecologic cancers (ovarian, cervical, uterine, vaginal, vulvar), including minimally-invasive daVinci® surgery.