A new high-tech robotic procedure could end the discomfort of prolapse for
thousands of women. Around three million women are affected by prolapse - where the muscles of the
pelvic floor that support the vagina, womb and anus weaken and give way.
In some cases, this leads to these structures protruding out of the body
which can be uncomfortable. The condition affects mostly women - around 90 per
cent of cases - and one of the main causes is the long-term effects of
childbirth. However, for many women a prolapse will not occur until decades
after having children.
Surgery to repair a prolapse involves inserting surgical mesh about 3
centimetres by 15 centimetres into the body and using it to raise the affected
organs back to their correct anatomical position.
Traditionally this was done by open surgery - a major
abdominal procedure - and more recently a key-hole version has been used.
But the new da Vinci Si robot now available at the Wellington Hospital uses miniaturised instruments allow surgeons better access to this area with
greater vision, precision, dexterity and control.
For patients it means less scarring, a shorter operation of typically
three hours, a lower risk of complications and speedier recovery than
traditional surgery. Most patients are in hospital for two days and recover
within two to four weeks.
Colin Elton, a Consultant General, Colorectal and
Laparoscopic surgeon who performs the procedure known as a Robotic Ventral
Rectopexy at the Wellington Hospital, explains: "Using da Vinci, surgeons have a
3D image of the inside of a patient's body - it is very much like having your
head inside the patient's abdomen.
"The robot holds the instruments and we
control them from a console. It is much more precise than other operations. The
mesh acts like a buttress, lifting the affected structures up.
"This is a
very common problem and many women don't realise there is help out there which
could transform their life."
Private women's health news: 30 May 2012