New minimally-invasive robotic surgery helps patients get back to life
faster with virtually no scarring
Daralyn Christensen, personal assistant, mother of two and barre instructor
Daralyn Christensen, personal assistant, mother of two and barre instructor,
had suffered from pain caused by uterine fibroids for years. Due to the
fibroids’ size, quantity and location, surgical removal was not
an option. Christiansen and her physician,
Susana Gonzalez, MD, board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist at
Queen of the Valley Medical Center, tried many other treatments, including low-dose birth control, which
helped to ease the pain—temporarily.
“Over the last year, the pain increased. I couldn’t go to work.
It was affecting my quality of life,” says Daralyn. “I had
never given a hysterectomy much thought because I didn’t want to
take off the six weeks of work.”
When Dr. Gonzalez shared that her recovery time would only be about three
weeks if she opted for robotic surgery, Daralyn was astonished. She was
also encouraged by the fact the scarring would be minimal. After years
of pain, she booked the surgery.
Minimally-Invasive Robotic Surgery
For years, Queen of the Valley Medical Center has been at the forefront
of robotic surgery, offering this minimally-invasive alternative to traditional
open surgery or laparoscopy. Now, the hospital is home to the only robotics
program with the
da Vinci® Xi™ Surgical System in Napa and Solano counties and it’s making a difference
in the lives of our community members in need of gynecological procedures.
“The beauty of these robotic procedures is that they barely leave
a mark on the patient. Daralyn only needed three small incisions (a few
centimeters in length) around the belly button. They are thin and barely
noticeable,” says Dr. Gonzalez, one of several physicians who specialize
in performing gynecological robotic procedures.
They now have the third generation robot,
da Vinci Xi, which allows them to perform the procedure through a single-site incision.
da Vinci Xi improves the surgeon’s dexterity and visibility. The arms mount
onto an overhead boom which can pivot in any direction. The endoscope,
which attaches to any of the robot’s four arms, displays a high
definition, 3D image, enhancing the surgeon’s vision. The robot’s
joints offer a fuller range of motion than is possible with the human
hand, without any tremors.
Dr. Gonzalez says with this new system, patients experience:
- Less pain and scarring
- Less blood loss (two tablespoons compared to ½ liter in a traditional
- Shorter hospital stay (most patients go home the same day compared to 3-4
days in the hospital for traditional hysterectomy)
- Less risk of infection
- Faster recovery time (2-4 weeks compared to 8 weeks for traditional hysterectomy)
Daralyn was back at the barre studio as a student 3 weeks after surgery
and was teaching the class a month after the procedure.
“I was back home four hours after the procedure and the scars are
completely healed; I got a spray tan and the technician didn’t even
notice them! I can’t believe I waited so long, it was a simple solution
for something that caused me so much pain,” she says. “It’s
changed my whole life.”
As many as 80 percent of American women are affected by fibroids —
noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus. Women can have one fibroid
or many, as small as a pea or as large as a melon. Although treatment
is not always necessary, some women experience debilitating symptoms such
as heavy menstrual bleeding,
pelvic pain and fertility problems. Depending on their location, fibroids can also
press on the bladder, causing frequent urination.
What causes fibroids is still unclear, but risk factors include age and
family history. In fact, fibroids are most common among women in their
30s and 40s, prior to menopause. Obesity and a diet high in red meat are
also linked with higher occurrence of fibroids, and African-American women
are at higher risk than women of other ethnicities.
Dr. Susana Gonzales and Daralyn Christensen
Other Treatment Options
For decades, hysterectomy was the only treatment option for painful fibroids.
But thanks to medical advancements, women suffering from fibroid symptoms
now have a wider range of
treatment options, including
endometrial ablation and
uterine fibroid embolization.
“A minimally-invasive hysterectomy is usually recommended after all
other treatment options have been considered,” says Gonzalez. “At
Queen of the Valley Medical Center, we recommend robotic surgery using the
da Vinci Xi for patients with benign fibroids who have not been able to fix the problem
with medical therapy and continue to have significant issues and discomfort.”
If you’re a woman experiencing pain in your uterus or excessive menstrual
bleeding, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN to determine if you’re
suffering from uterine fibroids and what your best treatment approach
is based on your medical history.
For more information on robotic-assisted surgery at Queen of the Valley
Medical Center, click