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MeritCare Surgeon Performs North Dakotas First Robotic Hysterectomy

Dr. Jon Dangerfield, obstetrician and gynecologist, recently performed North Dakota's first robotic hysterectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System. MeritCare is the only facility in the state offering this minimally invasive, state-of-the-art robot-assisted procedure. "This gives women facing the prospect of a complete hysterectomy another option that is less-invasive and offers faster recovery time and less scarring," said Dangerfield.

Dr. Jon Dangerfield, obstetrician and gynecologist, recently performed North Dakota's first robotic hysterectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System. MeritCare is the only facility in the state offering this minimally invasive, state-of-the-art robot-assisted procedure. "This gives women facing the prospect of a complete hysterectomy another option that is less-invasive and offers faster recovery time and less scarring," said Dangerfield.

Surgeons perform 600,000 hysterectomies each year in the United States; it's the second most frequently performed surgery for women. 65 % of those performed are total abdominal hysterectomies, which utilizes a large incision and requires 2-3 days of hospitalization following the procedure. The average length of hospitalization following a robotic hysterectomy is one day.

An alternative to the traditional surgical approach is robot-assisted surgery. Using the da Vinici Surgical System, the surgeon operates while seated at a console a few feet away from the patient. Using a high-powered camera, the surgeon is able to view a 3D image of the surgical field. The surgeon grasps the master controls and guides the arms of the robot that holds surgical tools which are inserted into the patient through small, keyhole-sized incisions. da Vinci seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments inside the patient.

"The patient benefits of this technique are significant, including a markedly shortened hospital stay, shortened recovery time, less blood loss and reduced rates of infection," said Dr. Dangerfield. "And patients report less pain and scarring than with traditional hysterectomy."

Other options for hysterectomy at MeritCare that are less invasive than traditional hysterectomy include laparoscopic hysterectomy and vaginal hysterectomy.

Since April 2001, when MeritCare became one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to offer advanced robotic technology, surgeons have used it for cardiac procedures. MeritCare is preparing to offer robot-assisted urologic procedures in the near future as well.