There is never a fun time to think about surgery below your waist and above your knees. It’s daunting. However, with new innovations offering more choice, it may be less off-putting than you realise.
WORDS JENNY RUDD PHOTOS QUINN O’CONNELL
We are fortunate to have, at Grace Hospital in Tauranga, a piece of equipment which is at the absolute forefront of gynaecological technology, and even luckier to have one of the very few surgeons in the country with the expertise to employ its use for women in the Bay.
Gentle and courteous, gynaecologist Brad Chittenden takes the time to tell us about this new service.
“At Grace we now offer robotically assisted surgery (RAS), which means that women undergoing complex and often emotionally charged operations for things like endometriosis, or a hysterectomy, have more options.
“The people who make medical equipment don’t always choose the best names.” Brad laughs. “So whilst talk of a robot might conjure up visions from a sci-fi movie, it’s really just a very high-tech tool that enables me to operate with heightened precision and control.”
RAS is similar to laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery but is much more precise, thanks to a 3D camera and improved manoeuvrability of instruments.
Brad completed basic medical training in his native South Africa before continuing in the United Kingdom, specialising in laparoscopic surgery specifically aimed at the treatment of endometriosis, infertility and problem periods. He undertook specific training in the use of the robot in the USA.
Since arriving in 2012, Brad has been able to offer the women of Tauranga the option of advanced laparoscopic surgery and RAS. Surgery ranges from putting a camera in to have a ‘look around’, to performing more complex procedures such as hysterectomies or treatment for endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts.
“I established my laparoscopic service here at Grace Hospital, knowing it was a perfect relationship; the surgical excellence I could provide was supported by the exceptional care of the patients. It is vital the women who undergo this surgery are treated with thought and compassion, and are furnished with as much information, and therefore choice, as possible.
“The natural progression from advanced laparoscopy is RAS. Grace was the first hospital in the country, and is now the only hospital in the North Island outside Auckland to offer this surgery.
”Walking into Grace, Tauranga’s only private surgical hospital, is quite the experience. An air of calm pervades; light floods the entrance from two storeys of glass in the atrium, and plush armchairs and handsome sculptures are artfully placed in a welcoming space alongside the reception. An architecturally designed café sits neatly to the side, and smiling nurses pass through the entrance foyer, talking quietly to each other.
Grace Hospital believes in surgical excellence and personalised care. Each of the 48 rooms is furnished in soft, muted colours and fabrics, with armchairs for guests, free wifi, and delicious food; many of the rooms enjoy uninterrupted views from Oropi towards Tauranga. There is a sense of real peace and warmth throughout the hospital.
Surgery isn’t always easy to think about, but if you are considering your options, ask your GP for more information.
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What is laparoscopic surgery?
Also known as keyhole surgery, a few small incisions are made in the tummy, and thin instruments including a camera are inserted through these incisions. The surgeon operates the instruments while an assistant operates the camera. Laparoscopic surgery allows patients to benefit from reduced pain, improved safety and better outcomes.
What is robotically assisted surgery (RAS)?
Similar to laparoscopic surgery, but much more accurate and precise, small incisions are made in the tummy through which slender instruments and a camera are placed. The difference is that the instruments and camera are attached to robotic ‘arms’, which are controlled by the surgeon, allowing improved precision and thereby optimising surgical outcomes. He is supported by a specially trained theatre team providing assistance throughout the procedure.
BENEFITS OF RAS
- Less pain
- Less blood loss
- More precision
- Less scarring
- Less hospital time
- Shorter recovery