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Today's active women don't have the time for long recovery periods, but until recently a four to six week confinement was required if they were to undergo a hysterectomy- the surgical removal of the uterus. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every year, making it the second most common surgical procedure for women. An abdominal hysterectomy requires a 6-12 inch incision and a typical recovery period between 4 to 6 weeks. Now, a less invasive procedure is now available to women of the Tri-City area- the robotically-assisted hysterectomy.

The robotic hysterectomy is powered by state-of-the-art technology, the daVinci robot, which is directed by the surgeon and requires only tiny surgical openings to be made in the abdomen. This procedure results in less pain and quicker recovery for the patient, as well as shorter hospital stays. There is less risk of wound infection, blood loss and scarring.

Dr. Deborah Russell, a Board Certified OB/GYN is the only female surgeon of five local gynecologists performing this procedure at St. Mary's of Michigan. Dr. Russell was trained to use the daVinci robot in New Jersey and recently attended an international symposium to learn additional techniques and network with other surgeons using robotic assisted technology.

Dr. Russell performs the robotically assisted hysterectomy while sitting at a computerized console with hand and foot controls while patients lie across the room on the operating table with a nursing team. Instead of an abdominal incision of up to twelve inches, each incision to place the daVinci instruments and camera is no bigger than 12 millimeters. While previous approaches to laparoscopy used long, inflexible handles guided by the surgeon's hands, the new robotically assisted laparoscopic procedure allows the work to be based on the surgeon's hand movements at the console. Dr. Russell uses 3-D imagery at the console which provides magnification of up to 10 times that of traditional laparoscopic procedures. "It's hard to get the angles and wrist action we need (in a laparoscopic surgery). With the daVinci, the robot completely mimics my hands; I have unlimited wrist movement. When I look through the viewer, the instruments are doing exactly what my hands are doing."

While there are over 600 daVinci units across the country, there are only 27 in Michigan and St. Mary's has the only one north of Flint. In addition to hysterectomy, the robot can be used to improve ovary and cyst removal, myomectomy and resection of endometriosis. Dr. Russell is available to discuss any of the above robotic alternatives at her offices on Fashion Square Boulevard in Saginaw (989-791-9100).



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