Robotic Surgery for Women: Encapsulating Innovation and Safety
PUBLISHED IN PEOPLE ASIA MAGAZINE (AUGUST - SEPTEMBER ISSUE 2021)
To say being a woman is challenging is an understatement.
There's the hardship of making your voice heard, breaking away from gender stereotypes, and journeying through motherhood for some — all of which are just the tip of the iceberg. One aspect of womanhood often swept under the rug is the health of the complex female reproductive system.
The female reproductive system is one of the most complex and delicate systems in the body — far more than its male counterpart. Its complexity stems from women’s capability to bear children, and with it comes a variety of health challenges that many women face throughout their lives, especially as they grow older. Some prominent health challenges women face are cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic organ prolapses, and more.
Many women undergo a variety of surgical procedures to address these health concerns in their reproductive organs. Laparoscopic hysterectomy — the removal of the uterus — is a common procedure used to treat conditions such as abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and pelvic organ prolapses.
Renai Costa — a mother of three who has worked as a social worker and a physiotherapy and occupational therapy team assistant for Allied Health — needed to undergo hysterectomy after experiencing a great deal of gynecological challenges over the course of her life. Renai particularly experienced frequent abnormal uterine bleeding that led to chronic pelvic pain. She eventually sought medical advice at St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) Global City and was diagnosed with abnormal bleeding, adenomyoma, and adenomyosis — a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus (the myometrium).
Despite her gynecological health challenges, Renai has maintained an active lifestyle through sporting activities like swimming, boating, and hiking. She currently lives in Manila as an expat from Australia.
Dr. Jennifer Jose, urogynecologist and surgeon at SLMC Global City, was Renai’s gynecologist and surgeon for her operation. Dr. Jose highly recommends robotic surgery for women like Renai who need to undergo surgical procedures such as hysterectomy.
Dr. Jennifer Marie “Jenny” B. Jose is the first Filipino doctor recognized by Intuitive Surgical Inc., the maker of the Da Vinci Surgical System. She is also the first Filipino doctor to make it to the Surgeons Locator List of Intuitive Surgical Inc., where she maintains her status up to the present.
Being on the list bestows Dr. Jose the honor of being one of the robotic surgeons all over the world recognized by Intuitive Surgical Inc. for their proficiency in robotics surgery. She was given a Trailblazer Award by Intuitive Surgical Inc, as the First Filipino Doctor to perform 100 robotic surgeries.
“One of the best things about robotic surgery is that when you reconstruct the uterus, such as after removal of fibroids, you’re doing it like an open surgery. You’re putting back the uterus together in its normal state, but you’re not compromising the reconstruction of the uterus because your robotic instruments are like your hands inside the body of the patient. You are able to suture the uterus with precision in a minimally-invasive manner,” said Dr. Jose.
Renai believes that the knowledge Dr. Jose provided prior to her surgery played an important role in her decision to undergo robotic surgery. Unaware of this type of surgery before, she previously delayed hysterectomy in Australia due to the difficulty and inconvenience that a traditional open surgery would bring.
“I decided to undergo robotic surgery after learning from Dr. Jenny that it is a less invasive surgery to the body, allowing a shorter recovery period post-surgery. I was walking around comfortably the next day after surgery and was even discharged,” Renai said.
While Renai’s case needed hysterectomy, Dr. Jose also highlighted that robotic surgery is also ideal for more difficult and complex surgical procedures due to the accuracy and precision that the robot provides to the surgeon.
“As a urogynecologist, I do a lot of suspension procedures such as sacrocolpopexy, where we attach the vaginal vault to the sacrum and thus a lot of suturing is needed. Suturing minimally-invasively with rigid instruments is actually very difficult to do, but with robotic surgery, the robotic instruments function like human hands inside the body of the patient. It's like doing open surgery in a minimally invasive manner and therefore we get the advantages of open surgery. At the same time, the patient benefits from the advantages of minimally-invasive surgery which are small incisions, less scarring, less chances of complications and blood loss, and a quicker return to normal activities.”
While it would take two months to fully recover from traditional open surgery, recovery from robotic surgery takes only two weeks, with patients able to go home the day after the surgery. With this advantage, older patients can handle this procedure with less discomfort and with improved quality of life.
Because of her fast recovery and overall patient experience, Renai highly recommends robotic surgery for women like her who continue to experience gynecologic problems.
“I would not hesitate to recommend robotic surgery at St. Luke’s to anyone who their surgeon assesses as suitable for this type of surgery. Go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain in having quality of life through robotic surgery. No matter your choice of lifestyle, if your gynecological and urological issues are encumbering your daily activities and reducing your ability to function, then give yourself the gift of robotic surgery.”
The minimally-invasive and low-risk robotic surgery is a revolutionary advancement in the field of gynecology. It not only creates a safer space for women to recover, but it also allows them to go back faster to the things that matter — their careers, their family, and themselves.
St. Luke's Medical Center offers Gynecologic Robotic Surgery for women. For inquiries, please call St. Luke's Product Information Hub through the following:
+63 28789-7700 loc. no. 1050 and 5104 / 09985822276 or 09285200239
+63 28789-7700 loc. no. 4815 and 5564 / 09479943550 or 09985822285
St. Luke's Medical Center - Quezon City
279 E Rodriguez Sr. Ave,
Quezon City, Philippines
St. Luke's Medical Center - Global City
Rizal Drive cor. 32nd St. and 5th Ave
Taguig City, Philippines