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Lifespan surgeon first in region to perform single-site robotic gynecologic surgery

9/24/2013

Advanced robotic technology offers new surgical option for hysterectomy

scott walker mdW. Scott Walker, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Ob-Gyn Associates, which recently partnered with Lifespan and the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, has become the first surgeon in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to perform a robotic hysterectomy that uses only a small, single abdominal incision.

Walker has performed more than 300 traditional three to five incision OB/GYN robotic procedures, including ovarian cystectomy and surgery for endometriosis, making him one of the region’s most skilled and experienced robotic surgeons. Last month, he became the only surgeon in the region to operate using an innovative new approach to hysterectomy, one of the most common surgeries in the United States. 

Known as a single-site hysterectomy, this delicate and complex surgery, which involves the removal of a woman’s uterus, is performed using a tiny incision approximately one inch long in a woman’s bellybutton. Because the incision is hidden by the navel, the procedure is virtually scar-free. 

Walker is one of only a handful of surgeons across the country who received training to perform single-site robotic surgeries using the daVinci Surgical System.

“We’ve been performing hysterectomies using robotic technology for over three years, but the single-site procedure takes it to the next level, offering women a state-or-the-art surgical option that is safe and less invasive, and now does it with a better cosmetic result,” said Walker.

“I am honored to be the first physician in our region to perform this procedure and excited to offer my patients the most advanced, minimally invasive surgical options,” he added.

Increasing numbers of hysterectomies have been performed laparoscopically or using multiple incision robotic technology, and some even continue to be done through one large incision in an open surgery, despite recommendations by national organizations that open abdominal hysterectomy should only be performed as a last resort. Single-site hysterectomy offers all the benefits of robotic surgery, including a shorter recovery time, low blood loss, minimal pain, a shorter hospital stay and high patient satisfaction. 

However, having just a single incision means less scarring both externally and internally, minimizing the risk of surgical complications. The surgery can be performed in about one hour and patients typically stay in the hospital less than 24 hours. Women are generally able to resume most normal activities within several days. 

The surgical robot gives surgeons more precise views of the uterus and surrounding tissue and organs, as well as greater dexterity. A surgeon controls the robot from a remote console that precisely translates his hand, wrist and finger movements to the robotic arms inside the patient while providing a three-dimensional view of those movements. Three of the arms are fitted with a variety of miniature instruments and the fourth controls a 3-D, high-definition camera that transmits images to the console.  Single-site robotic surgery provides all of the advantages of “multi-port” robotic surgery, but allows the surgeon to perform the surgery through a single small incision in the navel.

Currently, this single-incision approach to hysterectomy has only been approved by the FDA to treat non-cancerous conditions requiring a hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. 

About Ob-Gyn Associates

Ob-Gyn Associates, in partnership with the Women’s Medicine Collaborative, provides a full range of obstetric and gynecological services and includes a medical staff of 12 physicians, 5 certified nurse midwives and 2 nurse practitioners. The team offers comprehensive obstetrics services (including high risk obstetrics services, midwifery and fetal testing) as well as general gynecology and specialized gynecologic procedures, such as minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgeries and endometrial ablation. Ob-Gyn Associates, one of the state’s largest obstetrics and gynecology practices, has offices across Rhode Island and in parts of Massachusetts and is a member of the Lifespan Physicians Group. For more information, please visit www.obgynassociates.org