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Published on August 20, 2018

Robotic Surgery Dramatically Changing Patients' Experience and Recovery

Cottage Robotic Surgery Center Patient - Ann

It’s a dreaded word to hear from your doctor…cancer. Ann never suspected it could happen to her. After all, she was only 58 years old and in good health.

It started with a visit to the office of her Ob-Gyn, Dr. Heather Terbell, where an ultrasound revealed a uterine fibroid. Fibroids are very common, not normally a cause for concern—and rarely cancerous. In fact, there’s not a known link between them and other types of cancer. Dr. Terbell took a biopsy, and Ann had the results the next day.

The news was scary. Ann had endometrial cancer. She needed surgery, a total hysterectomy. Her fears were compounded with memories of the lengthy recovery time, pain and scarring her mother had experienced years ago after a hysterectomy.

Fortunately, advances in technology and medicine have opened new possibilities.

Dr. Terbell referred Ann to Dr. Anne Rodriguez, a gynecologic oncologist on Cottage’s medical staff and Chair of the Cottage Robotic Surgery Center.

Dr. Rodriguez performed a minimally invasive total hysterectomy using the advanced robotic technology at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. During the procedure, she also performed a sentinel node biopsy to determine whether cancer had spread into the lymphatic system. Fortunately, the cancer was removed at an early stage and Ann did not need chemotherapy or radiation.

“Robotic surgery has dramatically changed patients’ experience and recovery,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “The pace of innovation in robotics has accelerated rapidly over the past few years.”

Laparoscopic robotic surgery is often used for hysterectomy, uterine fibroid removal and prostate removal. It’s also an option for kidney removal, gallbladder removal, colectomy and other general surgeries.

The minimally invasive option typically offers patients:

  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Less blood loss
  • Fewer complications
  • Less pain
  • A faster recovery
  • Smaller incisions with minimal scarring

“I stayed at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital just one night, and the next day I went home,” Ann said. “It was a blessing to have Dr. Rodriguez and the nurses were angels. I was apprehensive at first but I had nothing to fear.”

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