When gynecologic oncologist Dr. Audrey Garrett steps into the operating room, she doesn’t stand at her patient’s side, but instead, she takes a seat at an ergonomically designed console.

“The use of robotic surgery technology translates into amazing surgical results for our patients,” says Dr. Garrett.

This robotic technology is called the da Vinci XI Surgical System. It features a magnified 3D high-definition camera and tiny wristed instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand, enabling surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control.

“Basically, if you look at what we can do with our hands through this technology, we can accomplish very complex movements, get into nooks and crannies as we’re doing surgery, as we’re trying to take out an ovary or a lymph node or a uterus.”

The FDA approved this robotic technology for gynecologic surgeries in 2006. Dr. Garrett, along with her WVCI colleagues, Dr. Charles Anderson and Dr. Kathleen Yang are the only gynecologic oncologists between Sacramento and Portland on the I-5 corridor using this technology. Between them, they have performed almost 3,000 surgical procedures.

Less invasive surgery
The technology allows Dr. Garrett to treat her patients through just a few small incisions, while maneuvering the surgical tools in a way that is more gentle on the body. The surgeon is 100 percent in control of the da Vinci System at all times, and the system cannot be programmed or perform in any way without the surgeon’s input.

“The equipment torques only around a single spot, so there is minimal tugging on the patient’s tissue, and we now know that tugging contributes to pain.” she says. “Through the use of this technology, patients come out of the surgery with significantly less pain, they need significantly fewer narcotics, and they are up and walking much sooner.”

Potential benefits of the da Vinci Surgical System for patients include:

  • Reduced pain
  • Lower risk of infection or complications
  • Less blood loss (fewer transfusions)
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less scarring, due to smaller incisions
  • Faster return to normal activities

Dr. Garrett says this surgical technology has been a game-changer in treating gynecologic cancers, significantly improving recovery time and getting patients back to their daily routines, often within a couple weeks, instead of six to eight weeks with traditional surgery. To learn more about treatment options for gynecologic cancers, click here.