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Robotic surgery helps Cork mother in second successful birth

The complex procedure performed before pregnancy helps women who have a weak cervix to carry to full term.

Anne O'Mahoney and her baby girl Zoey who was born yesterday.
Anne O'Mahoney and her baby girl Zoey who was born yesterday.

FOR THE FIRST time in Ireland, a woman has achieved a second full term pregnancy having had a procedure carried out by robotic surgery prior to pregnancy.

Last year Anne and her husband Patrick became parents to baby Lucy who was born at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) after Anne was one of the first women in Europe assisted in a successful pregnancy by the robotic surgery.

The procedure was carried out at the Cork hospital before pregnancy and one year on Anne has given birth to another baby girl. This is the first time in Ireland that a woman has had two births following the procedure.

Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at CUMH, Dr Barry O’Reilly explained that the complex procedure is used to assist women carry their babies to full term.

When a woman’s cervix is weak (sometimes called an incompetent cervix) the woman is likely to have a pregnancy loss because the cervix begins to open in early pregnancy with resulting miscarriage. In order to prevent this devastating problem from recurring, we can perform a surgical procedure before a further pregnancy called an interval abdominal cervical cerclage (stitch) to keep the cervix closed for the future.

“A closed cervix helps a developing baby to remain inside the uterus until the mother reaches 37-38 weeks of pregnancy and the baby is then delivered by elective Caesarean section so that the stitch can stay in position for future pregnancies,” he said.

In most hospitals this procedure is performed through an open abdominal incision requiring a long hospital stay and recovery period. However in CUMH it is carried out via ‘da Vinci robotic surgery’ which O’Reilly said involves less pain and scarring, reduced risk of infection, reduced blood loss and fewer transfusions. He said it also means a quicker recovery time and discharge for hospital for women.

The hospital performed the first robotic gynaecological surgical procedure in Great Britain and Ireland in 2007.

Da Vinci procedure

With the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery, miniscule incisions are made in which a tiny camera and surgical instruments are inserted into the patient’s body.

The instruments are attached to the robotic arms and controlled remotely by the surgeon who sits at a computer console, manipulating the controls while viewing an enlarged 3D image of the surgical site.

The robotic arms allow a full 360 degree rotation and eliminates the natural tremor in the surgeons hands. A final hallmark of the da Vinci system is its fail-safe design incorporating multiple, redundant safety features that minimise the risk for human error when compared with traditional approaches.

Speaking after the birth of her second child Zoey yesterday, Anne O’Mahoney said “I am most grateful for the intervention of the da Vinci robot surgical system which has helped me to have two successful pregnancies and given me two beautiful girls.”

Proud father Patrick said their healthy baby daughter “is a wondering early Christmas present” for the family.

Read: Maternal death rate ‘up to four times higher than CSO figures’>

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