On the cutting edge

WEIRTON – Weirton Medical Center announced Monday that board-certified gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Rachel Gilman, was scheduled to perform two single-site hysterectomies early this morning, some of the first in the entire region.

“I’m very excited for this new technology, which has been a long time coming,” Gilman commented.

Gilman has been performing robotic hysterectomies and robotic-assisted surgery for about a year and a half now, and minimally invasive gynecology has been available to patients for a number of years. Single-site hysterectomies offer many advantages for patients and doctors, she said.

“Personally I’ve been doing laproscopic gynecology for going on five-plus years. Robotic surgery was the next step. It offers less discomfort for patients and better visualization for the surgeon. The single-site coming out now for gynecology has had the kinks worked out through general surgery, and now gynecologists and their patients can benefit from the next technologies coming out,” Gilman said. “The advantages for the patient include, obviously, big cosmetic improvements. We’re not going to be creating as many holes in the belly, and there’s less recovery time and less pain as well. We don’t compromise the visibility that I have when operating because we’re still using the robotic platform.”

“Laproscopic” means the surgeon makes small incisions and places a camera directly in the belly while using long, straight instruments.

“When I initially started doing minimally invasive hysterectomies I did laproscopic, which is a straight stick technique, in an effort to make patients have a better surgical recovery. Then I transitioned to robotic procedure because there’s significantly less pain and less blood loss. It is an evolution,” Gilman said.

The single-site method involves making a 2 to 2.5 centimeter incision in the belly button. A port then makes the incision a little bigger, and tiny instruments work through holes in that port, she explained. It adds up to a much quicker recovery – three to four weeks – and the potential for little to no scarring because of the location in the belly button, Gilman explained.

“I think women expect that they’re going to have a long recovery and feel sort of physically and emotionally down. Oftentimes what I find with the robotic surgeries I’ve been doing is that patients are very surprised at how little pain they have. They wake up; they feel pretty well. They go home that day or the following day, which is really nice for women, most of whom work and can’t really afford to be down and out. Because they don’t feel so physically compromised, their recovery and emotional recovery is much easier. There’s not as much emotional trauma, and they are able to step back into their roles sooner,” Gilman said.

Gilman has performed the most gynecological robotic-assisted surgical procedures in the Weirton-Pittsburgh-Route 22/30 corridor, according to Kelli McCoy, WMC director of communications.

“The technology out there is really exciting. I’ve spent some extra time doing some training and advanced robotic surgery courses, which is wonderful to go and work with some of the other surgeons who have done huge volumes of surgeries like these. I get to watch them and do case studies and bring those skills back here to our patients so that they don’t have to travel to Pittsburgh or to another area. They can stay right here and have that,” Gilman said.