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Robotic Surgery Offers More Women's Health Options

By DAN BAULCH | Beaver Dam Community Hospital

Most discussion about the state-of-the-art da Vinci Xi Robotic Surgical System at Beaver Dam Community Hospital centers on traditional procedures in the abdominal cavity, like gallbladder removal, hernia repair and appendectomy.

But some often overlooked aspects of the da Vinci are its gynecological and urogynecological applications.

Dr. Ken Ostermann, a gynecological surgeon board certified in urogynecology, is one of the physicians who have combined to perform more than 500 robotic surgery cases at the BDCH Surgical Center. Through his expertise and training, women in the Dodge County region are able to receive advanced, high-quality care close to home.

“I think the big thing from a gynecologic surgery point of view is that there are only a few procedures we can’t do here,” Dr. Ostermann said. “Most facilities don’t do the more complicated reconstructive pelvic surgeries, but we do. It’s a real benefit to the community that we can provide so much care locally, and we do it well.”

Using the da Vinci system, Dr. Ostermann performs hysterectomy, lymph node dissection and exploratory procedures. He also specializes in complex sacrocolpopexy, which is the repair of pelvic floor prolapse, or vaginal hernias.

“With typical laparoscopic procedures, there is limited flexibility with the instruments, and the robot makes our challenging cases easier,” Dr. Ostermann said. “Along with the improved 3D optics, it allows you to handle the most difficult and complex cases in a safer manner.”

A fringe benefit of the da Vinci is its ergonomic functionality. Instead of standing for hours at a time, surgeons can sit comfortably at the robotic controls. A common misconception is that robotic surgery is performed by the robot, but surgeons are always maneuvering the arms and instruments completely.

“If I’m doing a sacrocolpopexy, it might take four or five hours of me and a surgery technician holding our arms out with scopes, which is not easy,” Dr. Ostermann said. “It’s doable, I’ve done it for 25 years, but the da Vinci adds another level of stamina and stability, meaning less fatigue and improved focus.

“Having the da Vinci could even extend the number years a surgeon can perform.”

At the end of the day, perhaps the greatest benefit to surgeons and patients is the availability of yet another tool to ensure the best solution is being applied to each specific medical problem.

“It’s yet another option at our disposal that ensures we’re able to tailor the game plan for a patient’s particular circumstance,” Dr. Ostermann said. “Based on a patient’s unique history, condition and anatomy, we are able to analyze and utilize the safest, most effective method to care for that patient. And that’s safe in the long run.”

State-of-the-art technology and skilled physicians are critical to excellent outcomes, but so is a well-trained, compassionate group of nurses and support staff.

“I’m really impressed with the great group we have in the Operating Room,” Dr. Ostermann said. “People are happy, enjoying their work and providing excellent care.”

According to BDCH Director of Surgical Services Melody Trentham, that doesn’t happen on accident.

“We refer to our surgical team as our workplace family. We work closely together because we know it is critical to have a team that not only has strong knowledge and skills, but also communicates with and cares for patients at a high level,” Trentham said. “Each patient is unique with individualized needs, and from the moment they walk through our door, their comfort and care is our No. 1 focus. This is reinforced every day as I see our nurses, surgical technologists, anesthesia physicians, and support staff provide safe, high-quality, patient-centered care.

“The advanced care we provide here for our community is evident in our successful patient outcomes.”

To learn more about surgery at BDCH, visit

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