The da Vinci Robot is a type of laparoscopic surgery performed with a robotic machine that is designed to be minimally invasive, offering a greater range of motion that traditional surgical methods. Unfortunately, when used during hysterectomy procedures, robotic surgery is not without its risks. Women who have undergone hysterectomies with the da Vinci Robot have suffered severe side effects including bowel and bladder damage, punctured uterus and organ perforation.
What’s the Problem with the Da Vinci Surgical Robot?
One of the main criticisms of the da Vinci Robot is the extensive training required to operate it properly. Of course, there is a learning curve with all surgical techniques, but operating the da Vinci Robot is particularly complicated. Unfortunately, not all hospital facilities are requiring a sufficient amount of training on the device. Intuitive Surgical, the company that makes the robot, provides cursory training during setup, but for many, this is as far as the training goes. Therefore, in some cases it is this lack of training, as opposed to robotic malfunction, that leads to patients becoming injured.
Robotic Hysterectomy Side Effects
Bowel injuries may be caused by the monopolar current used by the da Vinci Robot, or because the device’s arm perforates the bowel. Bowel injury symptoms typically appear soon after surgery, and may include abdominal pain, nausea, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal distention. Unfortunately, many patients have returned home by the time these symptoms appear, so they require additional hospitalization and emergency surgery to correct the problem. If bladder damage goes untreated, it can cause fever, blood in the urine, pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction.
Some women may have their uterus punctured when undergoing hysterectomy surgery with the da Vinci Robot. The robot’s arms have been reported to penetrate through the uterine wall, and in some cases, may migrate into the abdominal cavity where the bowel or bladder may also be perforated.
Organ Perforation, Tears & Burns
Research has indicated that robotic surgery also puts internal organs at risk. Hysterectomy patients have suffered perforations, burns and tearing during surgery. These side effects can be caused by device malfunction or mishandling of the machinery.
Da Vinci robotic surgery may also increase a woman’s risk for contracting pneumonia. Many feel this hysterectomy side effect occurs because intubation is often required after a surgery. Patients spend their operation positioned at a steep angle with their heads facing the floor. This can create a buildup of fluid in the airways, requiring intubation.
In addition to these serious health risks, there is also evidence that robotic surgery is unnecessarily expensive. Most surgeons have achieved the same results with a traditional laparoscopic hysterectomy at about half the cost of using the da Vinci Robot. A study at the University of Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas found the greater cost was not associated with any type of improvement in outcomes.