A Miracle Hysterectomy

Advances in robotic surgery have patient feeling great in less than two weeks.

Last July, 59-year-old Sarah Taylor a professor at a local university, was worried. Her gynecologist suspected a precancerous condition, and recommended a hysterectomy.

Separated, with no caretaker at home, she was concerned about the long re­covery time associated with the standard abdominal surgery for hysterectomy. She decided to put it off for a few months hoping it would get better.

“I couldn’t miss work. I feared a long re­covery time, mostly for financial reasons,” said Sarah. “I also wanted a second opin­ion. When my condition didn’t improve, my gynecologist recommended Dr. Mat­thew Powell, a gynecological oncologist at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.”

By the time she saw Dr. Powell, her symp­toms were worse. She was on deadline at school for writing curriculum and she also was doing consulting work on the side, which was essential to paying her bills. She had no time in her life for an illness.

After Sarah discussed the various op­tions with Dr. Powell, she chose to go ahead with the surgery, opting for a new, less invasive robotic surgery technique – the da Vinci® hysterectomy. Advantages of a da Vinci procedure compared to an abdominal or laparoscopic hysterectomy include: 

  • a shorter hospital stay, 
  • faster recovery time, 
  • less blood loss, 
  • quicker return to normal activities, 
  • less risk of infection, 
  • less scarring. 

Using the da Vinci robotic system, a surgeon guides robotic instruments through dime-size incisions. The robot, with its micro-cameras, gives the surgeon superior visualization and its precise control enables precise micro-movements of tiny instruments for better results.

“Most of my patients are concerned with removing the cancer or precancerous cells, avoiding the pain and mitigating long-lasting cosmetic results. The da Vinci robotic system offers women a less invasive treatment option with a much quicker, easier and less painful recovery time,” explains Dr. Powell.

Sarah’s surgery was performed on a Friday in September, 2008. It lasted less than one hour. On Sunday, she went home and in less than two weeks, she felt great. “It’s made a huge difference for me,” said Sarah. “The incision included just a few small puncture scars instead of a large scar.” 

Sarah’s good friend from California came to town to help her recover at home. While visiting, the friend injured her back and the role’s switched - Sarah became her caretaker. That is how suc­cessful her recovery was.

Now Sarah is back teaching students, writing curriculum for school districts and serving on a local non-profit board of directors with a new year ahead of her and old concerns behind her.

One in three women in the U.S. will have a hysterectomy before she turns 60, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Symptoms may include abnormal bleeding, pain, and change in the bowels or bowel habits.

Note: Sarah Taylor is a real person, but the name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Dr. Matthew Powell is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecol­ogy and is on staff at Missouri Baptist Med­ical Center. He received his medical degree from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University and completed his internship and residency training at The Ohio State University Hospital and Clinics, followed by a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Washington University School of Medicine.

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