Robot-assisted abdominal sacrocolpopexy provides precise surgical care.
The pelvic area is made up of many important urological and reproductive organs, including the bladder, uterus, part of the intestines, rectum, and cervix. If any of these organs drop from their original position and press on the vagina, it’s referred to as pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
When non-surgical treatments (which may include pelvic floor exercises) to improve muscle strength aren’t effective, a robot-assisted abdominal sacrocolpopexy may be performed.
What is a Sacrocolpopexy?
If it’s the vaginal vault that’s primarily affected by pelvic organ prolapse, a sacrocolpopexy may be a treatment option. Surgical incisions are made in the abdomen to pull up tissues in the affected area and restore the organs to their normal position, which takes pressure off of the vagina.
What is a Robot-Assisted Abdominal Sacrocolpopexy?
Performed under general anesthesia, a robot-assisted abdominal sacrocolpopexy is a minimally invasive procedure that’s done with smaller incisions. During the surgery, the doctor uses a robotic controller to guide the instruments through the incisions. The robotic arm is designed to mimic the surgeon’s movements.
The surgeon will have a good view of the internal pelvic organs via a specialized camera that produces a detailed image on a monitor inside of the control unit. Mesh that’s either grafted from another area or synthetically created is sewn to the prolapsed pelvic organs. The mesh is then attached to the lower portion of the spinal column to keep the repositioned organs in place.
Who Might Benefit from Robotic Surgery?
Initially, a urologist may suggest using a removable device called a pessary. If non-surgical options aren’t helping with moderate to severe prolapse, surgery may be explored. Robotic-assisted abdominal sacrocolpopexy may also ease or resolve the following symptoms and prolapse-related issues:
- A constant feeling of fullness in the vagina
- A bulge in the vagina from the displaced organs
- Problems with urination
- Recurring constipation
- Painful intercourse
What Happens Before, During, and After Surgery
Prior to a robot-assisted abdominal sacrocolpopexy, several tests may be done, including blood and urine tests to check for signs of an infection and chest X-rays and heart tests to evaluate overall health.
During the procedure, the surgeon will control the robotic device to perform the necessary steps to correct the prolapse. In some instances, a hysterectomy is also performed. Other times, part of the cervix may be left in place to minimize complication risks.
Because the surgery is minimally invasive and very precise with tool movements, patients often experience fewer complications and benefit from a shorter recovery period. After surgery, activities should be limited to allow for proper healing of tissues. Follow-up care includes exams to ensure healing is progressing as expected. Patients will likely be asked if symptoms experienced prior to surgery are gone or noticeably reduced.
If the uterus is also affected by pelvic organ prolapse, a related procedure called a sacrohysteropexy may be performed. The success rate for sacrocolpopexies and sacrohysteropexies ranges from 80 to 90 percent. The increased precision that’s possible with a robot-assisted abdominal sacrocolpopexy may allow some patients to avoid more invasive surgical procedures like obliterative surgery, which closes off most or all of the vagina. With a minor prolapse, a urologist may suggest non-surgical remedies instead, especially for women planning to have children in the near future.