Dear Dr. Levister: I’ve suffered with problem periods for years. I don’t plan on having more children. My health care provider says I will eventually need a hysterectomy? Is this operation still as radical as it was a generation ago? L.W.
Dear L.W.: Behind cataract surgery hysterectomy is the second most common surgery worldwide. One of every three women will eventually need a hysterectomy. The encouraging news is thanks to greater awareness of women’s health issues and encouraging medical advancements, this often controversial procedure is becoming less invasive.
A generation ago, it was typical medical practice for doctors to recommend hysterectomy as a matter of course for patients with problematic periods – no matter how young they were – if they had finished having children.
Today we now understand the importance of leaving the female organs intact when possible, especially the ovaries, which continue to produce hormones even after menopause – something a generation ago we didn’t realize.
While hysterectomy is still surgery, it’s becoming less invasive says University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston’s Dr. Sami Kilic, one of the world foremost experts in robotic gynecological surgery.
Dr, Kilic recommends a groundbreaking new minimally invasive option in which one incision is made in a woman’s navel. The surgery is conducted with a robotic instrument and a camera, and then the excised uterus is gently pulled out through the woman’s vagina. It leaves no visible scar and in some cases the woman is able to return home the same day.
The single-site procedure takes about two hours. A traditional laparoscopic hysterectomy — in which a surgeon would use five small incisions, one for each instrument — takes less time, gives the surgeon more space to operate and allows the surgeon to use an additional instrument, Kilic said. But the procedure often means the patient stays longer in the hospital and experiences more pain, he said.
As with any surgery, patients should get the facts from a reliable and trusted physician or health provider before proceeding. Be sure you do your due diligence.