- Valley City woman willing to share experience with new procedure Friday.
Hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed operation for women, second only to Cesarean section. Women in the region who need a hysterectomy have a new, less-invasive option at MeritCare known as laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH). The procedure causes less trauma to the body, making recovery much faster than with traditional surgery. Women who have LSH can be back to their normal activities in one to two weeks, compared to the six-week average recovery for a traditional hysterectomy.
LSH uses a laparoscope, a thin, lighted instrument which acts like a video camera so the surgeon can clearly see a magnified view of the pelvic organs, along with small surgical instruments. They are all inserted through three to four tiny incisions (each less than ¼ inch big) in the navel and abdomen. The surgeon uses the instruments to carefully separate the uterus from the cervix and removes it through one of the openings. The cervix, the bottom part of the uterus, is left intact.
LSH offers many advantages in addition to a shorter recovery time. Often, LSH can be done on an outpatient basis, which means a woman can be home resting comfortably within 24 hours. Because LSH does not require the surgeon to make two large abdominal incisions, a woman will not have the same kind of visible scar typical with most traditional surgeries. Complications from surgery are also reduced compared to traditional methods.
The LSH procedure preserves the cervix while traditional hysterectomies remove it. This may help reduce the risk of pelvic floor prolapse, urinary incontinence and other complications associated with total hysterectomies. However, with the cervix in place, a woman must continue to get annual Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer after having LSH.
Currently, two of every three hysterectomies performed in the U.S. are total abdominal hysterectomies (TAH). In a TAH or "traditional" hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus, including the cervix, through a five-inch abdominal incision. TAH require an average hospital stay of three to four days and complete recovery requires approximately six weeks.
Another less invasive option is a vaginal hysterectomy (VH), which is performed through an incision made at the top of the vagina. Through the incision, the uterus, including the cervix, is separated from the surrounding tissues and then removed through the vagina. Normal activities can usually resume in four weeks following a VH.
LSH is available at MeritCare in Fargo and in Detroit Lakes. For more information, patients can call MeritCare Southpointe Obstetrics and Gynecology at (701) 234-8880 or MeritCare Clinic Detroit Lakes at (218) 846-2000.
- By age 65, more than 37 percent of all women in the U.S. will have had a hysterectomy.
- It is estimated that over 600,000 women have a hysterectomy each year.
- Hysterectomies are generally elective procedures and are necessary for a number of reasons including:
- Fibroids: the most common reason for performing a hysterectomy is the presence of fibroids, or non-cancerous growths of the myometrium, the muscular wall of the uterus. Fibroids can cause symptoms of pain, pressure, or abnormal bleeding. Fibroids are common and may be treated by non-surgical means.
- Endometriosis: a condition where cells usually found only on the inside of the uterus grow on the surface of the uterus or other organs in the abdominal cavity. This condition can be painful and result in irregular bleeding or even infertility.
- Uterine prolapse: the falling of the pelvic organs from their usual position into the vagina. Prolapse can occur when supporting ligaments and tissues weaken. It can lead to urinary incontinence, pelvic pressure, or difficulty with bowel movements. Uterine prolapse can be caused by childbirth, obesity, and loss of estrogen after menopause.
- Cancer (uterine, endometrial and cervical): the most common condition with an urgent need for treatment is cancer of the uterus, endometrium or cervix. Treatment options depend on what type of cancer the patient may have and how advanced it is.
- Other reasons why it may be necessary to have a hysterectomy include chronic pelvic pain, heavy bleeding during or between periods and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.
- LSH is not an appropriate choice for all patients. Surgeons will help their patient determine which procedure is the best choice considering the following factors:
- History of prior abdominal surgery causing dense scar tissue.
- Inability to safely visualize organs.
- Bleeding problems during the operation.
- Underlying medical conditions.