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Belly Button Hysterectomies: February 10, 2011

Before it used to be one big incision across the stomach, now any signs of a hysterectomy are barely noticeable. “Right now, we’re using three of four robotic arms and anywhere from three to 5 incisions. The newer generation robots are going to do the entire surgery through one 12 millimeter umbilical incision,” says Dr. Kevin Fleishman, an OB-GYN on the Lee Memorial Health System medical staff.

That’s right. A hysterectomy procedure performed through the belly button. “If you can imagine, right now, the arms are moving different ways through different incisions, well, the newer arms are going to go through a very tiny umbilical incision. So, it’s going to be belly button surgeries. Complete hysterectomies through the belly button. And that’s only 6 to 12 months away.”

Dr. Fleishman has been performing robotic hysterectomies for several months now. He says his approach to this procedure will change as the robot functions change. “The new generation robots: the consoles are smaller. So it allows more hand movement and in the future, it’s probably going to be like a headset that you’re going to wear with some arms and will be separate from a console. Sort of like Avatar!”

As the technology changes, there are some things that will remain the same. Dr. Fleishman will still be at the helm, controlling the robotic arms as he does now. And the patient will still benefit post-operatively. “I really think that for a female patient, it’s going to be even more attractive because most females are more interested in cosmetic minimally invasive: smaller incisions, less scarring, and that’s what the da Vinci does.”

Another benefit to the da Vinci hysterectomy is a faster return to daily activities. Many patients are fully functioning in just a few days.