The Women’s Health Center at Door County Medical Center (DCMC) provides comprehensive and accessible healthcare for women throughout Door County and Kewaunee County. Located in Door County Medical Center’s Sturgeon Bay campus, the Women’s Health Center offers a full range of OB-GYN services, diagnostic imaging, birthing and massage. “At DCMC we do everything related to women’s health,” says Dr. Beth Gaida, Obstetrician-Gynecologist at DCMC’s Women’s Health Center. “We treat women of all ages—from children and adolescents all the way through to menopause,” she continues, adding, “We follow women through pregnancy, through wellness exams—we do it all.”
Robotic surgery at the Women’s Health Center
Unique among the majority of rural hospitals in America, Door County Medical Center, and the Women’s Health Center, offers patients the option of undergoing minimally invasive surgical procedures with the da Vinci Xi surgical robot. “It’s the latest and greatest technology,” says Dr. Gaida, “and one of the reasons I came up to Door County and started to practice at DCMC—I wanted to continue a skillset that I learned in the military.”
The da Vinci Surgical System is an advanced, robotic computer that uses 3-D technologies to assist your surgeon with an operation. It has been safely utilized by skilled surgeons since 2000, but not every hospital offers this state-of-the-art technology.
The robot’s mechanical wrists bend and rotate inside the patient’s body more effectively than a human wrist, resulting in a less invasive surgery. The surgeon is 100% in control of the robotic-assisted arms, which translates his/her hand movements into smaller, more precise movements of tiny instruments inside the body. The 3D-HD vision system provides surgeons a highly magnified view, virtually extending their eyes and hands into the patient.
“We have one of the newest models—the da Vinci Xi robot,” says Dr. Gaida, adding “It allows us to perform highly advanced laparoscopic surgery that would otherwise be done through a big, large, open laparotomy incision. Instead, we can do that through 4 or 5 small incisions and get a lot of surgery done through those few, very small holes.”
Gynecological procedures that can be performed with the da Vinci Xi robot
Hysterectomy: There are three main types of hysterectomy. A partial hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the upper part of the uterus. A simple or total hysterectomy removes the uterus and cervix. With both the partial and simple hysterectomy the ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed. A radical hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina. Generally, radical hysterectomies are used when cancer is present or suspected to be present. In the past, a hysterectomy was performed as an open surgery—that is, through a large incision in your belly. With the da Vinci Xi, the surgeon is able to perform the surgery through a few small incisions about 2 cm in diameter.
Myomectomy: Fibroids are noncancerous growths that are generally found inside the uterus or its walls. Some women with fibroids experience no symptoms while other women can experience significant symptoms that disrupt their daily lives. Fibroid symptoms include: heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, infertility, and miscarriages. Sometimes, a hysterectomy is performed in order to remove both the fibroids and the uterus. However, it is also possible to perform a minimally invasive, robot-assisted myomectomy with the da Vinci Xi robot, which removes the fibroids while leaving the uterus intact. It is important to note that with a myectomy, as opposed to a hysterectomy that removes the uterus, there is a chance that new fibroids could grow after the procedure.
Endometriosis resection: Sometimes the tissue that lines the uterus—called the endometrium—begins to grow outside of the uterus. This is called endometriosis, and it usually affects the area around the reproductive organs like the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can cause chronic pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain during sex, pain with bowel movements or urination, and fertility issues. As with the myomectomy, surgeons can perform robotic-assisted endometriosis surgeries using the da Vinci Xi robot, providing the patient with a minimally invasive option for endometriosis resection.
Ovarian cysts: An ovarian cystectomy involves the removal of cysts—fluid-filled sacs or pockets—that have formed in or on the ovaries. Many women will have ovarian cysts at some point in their lives, and most ovarian cysts are benign (noncancerous), cause little to no discomfort, and will disappear over time on their own. However, some ovarian cysts—especially ruptured cysts—can cause serious symptoms like pelvic pain (a dull or sharp ache in the lower abdomen on the side of the cyst), fullness or heaviness in the abdomen, and bloating. During an ovarian cystectomy with a da Vinci Xi robot, the surgeon will make a few small incisions, insert the robotic arms, locate the cysts and remove them from the ovaries. Usually the surgeon will remove the entire cyst, but if that’s not an option, as much of the cyst will be removed as possible.
The benefits of minimally invasive surgery with the da Vinci Xi robot
“One of the things that is really nice about performing a minimally invasive surgery with the da Vinci robot is that it allows for a multidisciplinary approach between urology, general surgery and gynecology, for example,” Dr. Gaida remarks. “This means,” she explains, “that if a patient has multiple conditions that need to be treated, the general surgeons can hop right on the console, take over, and fix whatever needs to be fixed—do an appendectomy, or take down bowel adhesions—without any delay in care. And, we don’t have to put any extra ports in, or make extra incisions,” she continues, ''so, this type of multidisciplinary approach is often the best option, and provides the best care, for the patient.”
Additionally, minimally invasive surgery generally results in shorter hospital stays and reduced recovery time for the patient. With robotic surgery, both hospital stays and recovery time are reduced even further. “The visualization with the da Vinci cameras is 3D optics,” Dr. Gaida notes, adding, “That allows us to be more precise, to do more surgery more quickly, and to be more proficient and more efficient in the operating room. Surgeries tend to be shorter and with less bleeding.” “All of that,” she adds, “leads to patients going home faster, with less pain, and a faster recovery.”
Learn more about Dr. Gaida and the Women’s Center at www.dcmedical.org/medical-services/womens-care, or call (920) 746-3666.