While it is often the last resort, the hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgical procedure for women in the United States. One in three women will have one by the time they're 60. Removing the uterus can be risky for patients, but with the help of technology, doctors are reducing risk and recovery time.
Shannon Walker is a nurse, mom and student. So when she started experiencing abdominal pain along with heavy bleeding, she knew it was a problem that needed addressing quickly.
"With my busy lifestyle it was really interfering with what I could do, " said Walker.
But once her doctor mentioned the word - hysterectomy...
"I thought about my mom's hysterectomy, back in the day, you know. My grandmother had to come and stay and take of her because it was such a big procedure."
Dr. Mark Leahy says times have changed. He told Shannon about a new, less invasive, procedure using the da Vinci Surgical System. The state-of-the-art, robotic technology means fewer complications, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay and less pain - much less.
Two days. That's how long a patient is on pain medication after a da Vinci hysterectomy. Compare that to two to three weeks with an abdominal hysterectomy.
Dr. Mark Leahy said, "No one wants to take the six weeks off like they used to. They want to get back to their normal lives."
Shannon went home one day after her procedure.
"I was able to eat, drink. I was just amazed that I was able to get up and do things for myself right away," said Walker.
Doctors say they benefit too, beginning with better control and precision.
Dr. Leahy said, "The instruments are very small. The magnification is just awesome. It's like you're right there."
One week later, Shannon is recovering nicely and is thankful she's getting back to her busy life, pain free.
Dr. Leahy has been practicing for nearly 20 years and says more younger women like Shannon are now having to get the procedure. But he says after performing more than 150 da Vinci Hysterectomies, it is rewarding to see how the technology is improving the recovery process.