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A new view on women's surgery

Following her hysterectomy, Roberta Stacey received standard instructions not to lift any heavy objects for six weeks.

She assumed she'd feel out of it for at least as long as the restriction. "I thought I'd feel kind of lousy for the six weeks, but I didn't," the 50-year-old Bismarck resident said. "I started going out and doing stuff within the first week."

She credits the speedy recovery to the da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery system, Sanford Health's latest innovation.

With robotic-assisted surgery, surgeons can perform complex procedures in a minimally invasive fashion using small incisions, which can lead to less pain, minimal scarring and a quicker return to normal activities for patients when compared to more traditional surgery. Sanford Health is the first and only health system in Bismarck-Mandan to offer this innovative technology, which is the most-advanced available for minimally invasive surgery.

On top of the quick recovery—Stacey returned to one of her two jobs two weeks after surgery—she experienced minimal pain and used only a few of the prescribed pain pills.

"It's really nice for them not to have all the pain postoperation," said Dr. Christie Iverson, the Sanford Obstetrician & Gynecologist who performed Stacey's surgery. "She was just bouncing around ready to go."
  A new view on women's surgery
Roberta Stacey experienced minimal pain and returned to work two weeks after having a hysterectomy using
da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery.

While clearing Stacey to return to work, Dr. Iverson had to remind the patient she did have major surgery and that it was OK to take it easy.

Dr. Christie Iverson Christie
Iverson, MD
  Before the surgery, Stacey suffered from excessive vaginal bleeding and erratic menstrual cycles. Her family medicine doctor at Sanford South Clinic referred Stacey to Dr. Iverson.

Stacey's symptoms resulted from several fibroids, or non-cancerous smooth muscle tumors, in her uterus. All the blood loss led to anemia, meaning she had a lower-than normal number of red blood cells, diminishing the capacity of her blood to carry oxygen. "When I talked to Dr. Iverson, I asked if I could wait to have surgery," Stacey said. "She told me I was slowly bleeding to death and told me I shouldn't wait."

Because of the number of fibroids, and other medical conditions, she wasn't a
good candidate to have her uterus removed vaginally—a method surgeons generally consider as their first option for hysterectomies. Before robotic-assisted surgery, that likely would've meant Stacey would need open surgery, which requires a large cut in the abdomen for the surgeon to perform the hysterectomy. With that surgical method, patients often need up to six weeks before returning to work, and they experience more blood loss, more scarring and more pain following the operation, Dr. Iverson said.

After the robotic-assisted surgery that required only five small incisions, Stacey's recovery was much smoother. A month after her procedure, Stacey spent four hours at Relay for Life, and she walked for the majority of the time she was there. "I'm feeling much better," Stacey said, "even better than I did before the surgery."

Visit bismarck.sanfordhealth/surgery for more information on da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery.

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