Your Health

Robotic myomectomies

Dr. Deborah Robertson is one of just three doctors in the province (all at St. Michael’s) who perform minimally invasive robotic surgery to remove fibroids from the uterus.

Dr. Deborah Robertson likes to define her job in a single sentence: “My goal is to perform surgery with the least impact possible.”

One way she does that is with the help of a specialized robot. Dr. Robertson is one of just three doctors in the province who perform robotic surgery to remove fibroids from the uterus (the other two work at St. Michael’s as well).

Large fibroids can press against other organs and make a woman uncomfortable. During pregnancy, that discomfort can get much worse.

So Dr. Robertson and her colleagues perform a myomectomy, which involves placing long, thin, robotically controlled instruments into cuts in the abdomen. Once inside, the instruments can be maneuvered much like a hand, allowing them to remove the fibroid and repair the uterus.

Dr. Robertson sees what it “sees” in 3D, and controls the instrument from a specialized console, just steps away from the patient’s bedside.

“When I move my fingers, the robot moves an articulated arm,” she says.

Without the robot’s help, Dr. Robertson would have to make a much larger incision, which comes with more potential for complications, post-operative pain and a much longer recovery time. She and her colleagues started using the robot in 2008. Many of their patients have since gone on to deliver babies. In fact, Dr. Robertson recently delivered a successful myomectomy patient’s third child.

As the Director of the Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery Fellowship at St. Michael’s, Dr. Robertson is teaching other doctors how to use the robot. While she gets a thrill out of passing on her expertise, the biggest payoff comes later.

“I perform women’s robotic myomectomies, care for them in this stressful time and many times have the unique chance to deliver their babies because I also do obstetrics,” says Dr. Robertson. “That final moment is the best reward.”

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