OGDEN — Gone are the days when surgery for women’s issues involved a long, ugly incision.
Dr. Amber Bradshaw, a gynecologist at Ogden Regional Medical Center, is performing more and more women’s surgeries with robotics, meaning smaller incisions, more precise surgery and faster recovery times.
“The robot is a surgical tool for laparoscopic surgery,” Bradshaw said. “It helps surgeons do complex and advanced surgery through small incisions. Many specialists are using the robot, including cardiothoracic, urology, ear, nose and throat, and gynecology.”
In gynecology, the robotic surgery is used for complex hysterectomies, removal of fibroids, prolapse surgery and advanced endometriosis surgery, to name a few procedures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States, making it the second-most-common surgical procedure.
“There are three components to the robot. There is the console, where the surgeon sits and operates the robot; there is the patient side cart, which is the part attached to the patient; and there is a viewing cart that has a monitor and other equipment on it,” Bradshaw said. “The surgeon still has to touch the patient. Incisions are made by the surgeon, and then devices are inserted into the incisions.”
The robot then attaches to these devices and the instruments are inserted into the abdomen for the surgeon to control. After the surgery, the robot is unhooked and the surgeon removes all of the instruments and closes the incisions.
“The robot is only a tool for surgeons to use,” Bradshaw said. “It doesn’t change the role of surgeons as far as diagnosing conditions and making a plan for surgery. But what it does allow surgeons to do is surgery that was previously done through a large incision. It can now be done through small incisions with the aid of the robot.”
The instruments the robot uses are wristed, which means they move like the human wrist. This allows for more complex and delicate surgery to be performed. A three-dimensional image processing system and a remote-control unit also help guide the surgeon through the procedure.
Bradshaw said the risks of robotic surgery are the same as any laparoscopic surgery, but they vary depending on the type of procedure being done. Robotic surgery usually takes longer than open surgery, but that’s because complex surgery is being done through small incisions, so it’s a small price to pay, she said.
“Since there is not a large incision, there is less risk of wound infections and wound complications. Patients leave the hospital more quickly and return to work earlier,” Bradshaw said.
When Bradshaw was in medical school at the University of Utah, she originally wanted to specialize in primary care, but after doing surgery rotations, she quickly changed her mind.
“The moment I performed my first surgery, I knew that was what I should do with the rest of my life,” she said. “It is very rewarding to see patients after surgery who now have no symptoms and feel great.”
Born in Ogden and raised in Clearfield, Bradshaw said she knew she wanted to become a doctor at the age of 7.
“When I was little, my mom told me that I could be anything I wanted when I grew up,” she said. “I totally believed her, and I will be forever grateful for that advice.”
Outside of work, Bradshaw enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, traveling and laughing.
“I love to laugh, so I am always making a joke or looking for someone to tell me a good joke,” she said.
Kidding aside, however, Bradshaw said there are so many options for women these days, there’s no need to sit around and suffer.
She said she wants women to know that if they need to have surgery, they don’t have to have a big incision with a six-week recovery period. They now have more options than ever before. She advises:
“Talk to your doctor about laparoscopic surgery or get a second opinion if they don’t do laparoscopic surgery.”