OSU James Uses Robotics to Treat Uterine, Cervical Cancer  

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Posted: 9/8/2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two surgeons at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University are among the first nationwide to be certified to perform minimally invasive robotic surgery on patients with gynecologic cancer.

Drs. Jeffrey M. Fowler (43209) and David E. Cohn (43209), who both specialize in gynecologic oncology, are routinely using robotic instrumentation to perform hysterectomies and lymph node dissections for treating uterine cancer. Fowler is also performing radical hysterectomies and lymph node dissections for patients with cervical cancer.
Doctor Jeffrey Fowler
Jeffrey M. Fowler, M.D.

Robotics have been used in heart and prostate surgeries for years, but now the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the minimally invasive technique for treatment of gynecological disorders, including hysterectomies (removal of the uterus) and myomectomies (removal of uterine fibroids).

Typically, these procedures have required large abdominal incisions, resulting in blood loss, pain and scarring – and a lengthy recovery period.

For example, patients with uterine cancer – also known as endometrial cancer – faced a six-week recovery period at home after a traditional hysterectomy and lymph node dissection, said Fowler, director of the division of gynecologic oncology at the James Cancer Hospital. The radical hysterectomy, required for patients with cervical cancer, is a more complicated procedure than a routine hysterectomy that requires meticulous dissection.

“With the da Vinci robotic system, patients can expect to have a shorter hospital stay and a faster overall recovery, often within two weeks instead of six weeks,” said Fowler, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State. “This is still a major surgery, but there is much less blood loss, pain and scarring, and less risk of infection with this surgery.”

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer, with about 40,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States, Fowler said. It is the fourth-most common cancer in women, he said. Cervical cancer is the third most common gynecologic malignancy. For both types of cancer, patients are usually treated by surgery, and many will be candidates for this minimally invasive approach.

The da Vinci is a refrigerator-sized robot with arms that allow surgeons to perform precise and delicate movements with tiny surgical instruments. Just a few small incisions, rather than a major incision, are needed to accommodate the miniaturized robotic instruments and tiny camera inserted in the patient’s abdomen.

The multilens camera provides a magnified, three-dimensional image of the internal organs, enabling the surgeon to watch the surgery on a monitor at an adjacent workstation while manipulating joysticks to precisely control the surgical instruments.

“With this type of surgery, there is less trauma to the patient, and we can work with more precision to avoid damaging blood vessels and nerves,” Fowler said. “As more surgeons are trained in the technique, this will become a major option for uterine cancer patients nationwide.”

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute is one of the nation’s leading centers for research on the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The OSUCCC – James encompasses seven interdisciplinary research programs and includes more than 250 investigators who generate over $100 million annually in external funding. It is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and OSU’s James Cancer Hospital is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best hospitals for cancer care.

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Eileen Scahill
Medical Center Communications

Tags: Gynecologic Cancer; James Cancer Hospital; OSU Medical Center; Women's Health

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 460 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: jamesline@osumc.edu