Robotic surgery has been used for the first time in the UAE to perform a hysterectomy on an Emirati woman suffering with severe fibroids and endometriosis.
This alternative form of surgery to remove the uterus is less painful and generally has a swifter recovery time due to the smaller incisions made by precise robotic instruments.
Abu Dhabi's Cleveland Clinic recently performed the operation, believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Robotic surgery allows surgeons to perform complex procedures with greater precision than traditional methods.
The surgeon makes small incisions for the insertion of the surgical tools, and controls them from a console that provides a live, 3D view of the surgical site.
The patient was first seen by Dr Jean Uy-Kroh at Healthpoint and referred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for minimally invasive surgery, given the complexity of her case.
“Fibroids and endometriosis are common in the UAE, and I see a lot of women suffering from them in my practice,” said Dr Uy-Kroh, a staff physician in the hospital’s surgical subspecialties institute.
“Being able to offer women with the most severe cases robotic surgery means they have less pain, their overall recovery time is significantly reduced, and they can get back to living their lives sooner.”
Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects about 10 per cent of women, but treatment costs on average are three times that of breast cancer.
As well as severe pain, complications can include delayed pregnancy and infertility.
The condition occurs when bits of the tissue that lines the uterus grow on other pelvic organs, such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes.
The tissue thickens and bleeds outside of the uterus, just as the normal endometrium does during the menstrual cycle.
Recovery times for robotic surgeries are shorter than traditional procedures due to the small incisions this minimally invasive approach affords surgeons.
The technique provides extremely fine control and greater flexibility to the surgeon, but also significantly less pain for the patient.
Robotic surgeries are becoming more common in healthcare, as more hospitals invest in the latest technology to reduce recovery times and improve patient care.
A 2017 survey of 11,000 people from 12 countries showed people were increasingly willing to engage with robots and artificial intelligence – if it meant better access to reliable and efficient health care.
Of those surveyed in the UAE, half said they were happy for a robot rather than a doctor to perform a minor surgical procedure.
That proportion climbed to 73 per cent when all respondents were taken into consideration.
The figure remained relatively high when it came to major surgery, such as knee or hip replacement, removal of a tumour or heart surgery, with 44 per cent of UAE respondents willing to be operated on by a robot.
Hysterectomy patients usually take from around six to eight weeks to recover, but that is reduced to just four with robotic surgery, and patients can be discharged from the hospital the same day.
“Following the procedure, the patient was up walking, eating, and doing her normal activities on the day of the surgery and was medically ready for discharge less than 12 hours later,” Dr Uy-Kroh said.
“This procedure was the first of its kind in the UAE, and I’m excited that we’re able to bring these kinds of advanced surgeries to the region.”