Hysterectomies are the second most common surgical procedure performed on women in the United States. Now some doctors, including some in Wilmington, are performing laparoscopic hysterectomies.
The procedure involves only three or four tiny incisions as opposed to one long cut. Doctors use a thin laparoscope with a camera at the end to perform the procedure. Long instruments that fit into the scope are used to remove the uterus.
Doctors say the new procedure may take longer, but the recovery is much easier and quicker for patients.
"There's no question that a laparoscopic procedure in a patient is a less morbid procedure in the sense that the patients feel better, they have less pain, they get out of the hospital quicker," says Dr. Alfred Jenkins. "You can decrease, many studies have shown, the bleeding the patients have, the need for blood transfusions, and you can decrease their instance of infections after the surgery."
Because a camera is used, everything seen during the surgery is magnified on a large monitor.
"We can see small blood vessels, and we can dissecting much smaller pieces with a finer degree of control than we can on open cases, because we have the limitation of our eyes," he says.
Dr. Jenkins says this approach also allows doctors to see stages of cancers during the surgery because the lymph nodes can be removed through the scope.
Most patients who undergo the surgery are back to their normal activities in about four weeks.
This procedure is being offered in Wilmington at Glen Meade OB/GYN, and in Southern Pines at the Southern Pines Women's Health Center.