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A Woman Knows...



Marsha Holman expected healing from her miscarriage to take time -- physically and emotionally. But months later she still felt something was wrong.

"I'd done my research and knew that every woman's different in how she recovers, but I just wasn't getting back to normal," she says.

Her intuition led to a pelvic exam and ultimately the discovery of a large uterine fibroid. Many women have uterine fibroids, but they don't cause symptoms or require treatment. Marsha had symptoms: cramping, heavy menstrual bleeding and pressure in her lower abdomen.

A business analyst at Noridian in Fargo, Marsha faced important questions: Surgery to remove the fibroid? What type of surgery? What about a future baby?

She takes a bright blue notebook from her purse. "I relied on this a lot, especially at the doctor's office," she says. "I wrote down my questions, took notes and made sure I had all the information I needed to make good decisions for myself."

Robotic OB/GYN surgery?

Marsha knew a traditional hysterectomy was a possibility, but disliked the idea of a large incision, days in the hospital and several weeks’ recovery. "I kept thinking there had to be a better way,” she says. “Plus at 35, I wasn’t ready to give up the hope of having children.”

An appointment at a Sanford OB/GYN clinic opened a new door. In an hour-long appointment, Marsha learned about her options, including robotic hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and robotic myomectomy (removal of the fibroid while leaving the uterus intact).

Both procedures offer all the benefits of a minimally invasive approach:

  • Reduced pain and trauma to the body
  • Less scarring
  • Decreased chance for infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery
  • Quicker return to normal activity

Marsha chose robotic myomectomy. "First, it preserved fertility. Second, I loved the fact this was a quick recovery,” she says. “And I was comfortable with the surgical team doing this procedure."

Sanford in Fargo was the first in North Dakota to offer robotic hysterectomies and robotic myomectomies. In the past two years, the highly trained team has performed hundreds of them, drawing patients from across the state.

A night-and-day difference

Marsha underwent the procedure on Oct. 14. The surgery took longer than expected because the fibroid had grown to volleyball-size. Even so, the surgical team was able to piece apart the fibroid and remove it through five quarter-inch incisions. Experience combined with today’s advanced robotic surgical system made it possible.

With the three-dimensional visualization and precise instrumentation now available, even complex surgeries can be performed. Robotic-assisted surgery typically takes more time in the operating room, but patients reap the benefits. Many describe it as a night-and-day difference.

Just hours after her surgery, Marsha was up and walking the halls at Sanford Hospital. The next day she went home. And the pain? "Barely any," she says. “I’d compare it to the soreness you feel from a few too many sit-ups.” Within two weeks she returned to work.

Today Marsha is symptom free. "I'm healthy," she says. "And it feels good to know a family may one day be possible."

"I Believe"

A voice student for 10 years, Marsha has a passion for singing. "Opera, Broadway, pop -- I love them all," she says.

Since her miscarriage last June, she's found strength and comfort in singing "I Believe" by Diamond Rio. "The words reassure me and give me hope," she says, eyes filling with tears.

Every now and then
Soft as breath upon my skin
I feel you, come back again...
And I believe...

Learn more about Robotic Surgery.

Posted Date: January 2011

A Woman Knows...

Marsha Holman knew she needed surgery to remove a large uterine fibroid. But she wasn't quite ready for a hysterectomy or a lengthy recovery. Welcome to the world of robotic OB/GYN surgery!