Robotic Gynecological Surgery Offers Same-Day Discharge and Faster Recovery

Northwestern Medicine
Women's Health February 21, 2021
After 10 years of radiating back pain, Kathleen VonDerHaar is finally pain free. The resolution came not from back surgery, but from removal of a large cyst on one of her ovaries.

When an ultrasound revealed the cyst in October 2020, VonDerHaar knew it needed to be removed soon – but she had some reservations.

“I’d never had surgery before,” she said. “It’s scary enough to know that you need surgery and have to go to the hospital, and then add in a pandemic and all those concerns, and it was just terrifying.”

VonDerHaar then learned she was a candidate for robotic gynecological surgery with Dana Elborno, MD, obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. The minimally invasive surgery offers a faster recovery and same day discharge, allowing patients like VonDerHaar to recuperate in the comfort of her own home.

“That was a pretty significant reduction in stress knowing that I would be coming home and have my husband be the one taking care of me,” she said.

The robotic procedure is used to remove ovarian masses, like VonDerHaar’s, and can also be used for hysterectomies. In both instances, the robotic surgery helps patients return to their normal lives faster than an open surgery without an overnight stay in the hospital.

“A more traditional removal of the ovarian mass would have been an open procedure with a two week recovery of being on pain medication and probably another six to eight weeks before feeling like yourself,” Dr. Elborno said.

Instead, VonDerHaar was able to return to work after five days and could resume most of her normal activities, including light exercise, after a week. Her surgery took place on New Year’s Eve, and the results were immediately noticeable for her.

“It was like I was in a new body – all the pressure and pain I felt in my back previously were gone,” she said. “I’ve been joking to everyone that this year I really gave ‘new year, new me’ a totally different meaning.”

Dr. Elborno, along with her colleague Alexandra Rzepka, MD, obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, continue to schedule patients for robotic gynecological surgery to either remove ovarian masses or complete a hysterectomy. For more information about robotic gynecological surgery, or to make an appointment, visit https://www.nm.org/conditions-and-care-areas/womens-health/obgyn or call 630.653.4240

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