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Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Procedure on the Rise

By Heather Maloney
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center staff

For the past two years, 39-year-old Franklin mom Nancy Longobardi suffered from intense abdominal pain. She was diagnosed as having pelvic adhesions (from a prior cesarean section) and endometriosis, a condition where endometrial tissue implants beyond the inner lining of the uterus. After a procedure to remove some scar tissue and treat the visible endometriotic implants, she felt better, but the pain returned within six to seven months. So, six weeks ago, she had a hysterectomy performed laparoscopically.

What is a hysterectomy? Why have the procedure?

A hysterectomy, the removal of a woman's uterus, is often recommended for patients with tumors in the uterus (such as fibroids), endometriosis , adenomyosis (a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus also grows within the muscular walls of the uterus), chronic pelvic pain or severe chronic uterine bleeding. At the time of the hysterectomy, the ovaries and tubes may be removed as well, a procedure called salpingo-oophorectomy.

What's the advantage of having it done laparoscopically?

Today, thanks to advances in gynecological surgery, many women now have the benefit of having the procedure done laparoscopically. The traditional abdominal hysterectomy involves making a large incision in the abdomen to remove the uterus. With a laparoscopic hysterectomy, the doctor inserts a camera and instruments through small (5mm to 1cm) punctures in the abdomen to perform the procedure.

Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and is performed in the hospital under general anesthesia. Patients usually enjoy:

  • A shorter hospital stay, often going home the same or next day
  • A faster recovery period, an average of two weeks compared to six to eight weeks with a traditional hysterectomy
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Less scarring compared to a traditional hysterectomy

How many laparoscopic hysterectomies are performed each year?

"The popularity of this procedure is on the rise," says Dr. Hye-Chun Hur, co-director of the minimally invasive gynecologic surgery program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "Laparoscopic hysterectomies have become more popular in the last five to 10 years, and the number of laparoscopic procedures performed at BIDMC has increased multifold in just the last few years."

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the US every year, and one-third of American women will have the procedure by the time they turn 60. In fact, the hysterectomy is the second most common major operation that women undergo.

Is laparoscopic hysterectomy right for me?

There are many different ways to do hysterectomy surgery, including abdominally, vaginally and laparoscopically; the mode of surgery is dependent on many factors. Although many patients are candidates for laparoscopic surgery, not all women are, so it's important to discuss all the options with a doctor.

Longobardi chose to have the laparoscopic procedure in part because the shorter recovery period would help her return to work and taking care of her kids. She is now back at work and feels great.

"I'm glad I did it," she says. "I would definitely recommend it."

She adds that women shouldn't be afraid to have the surgery if it means quality of life. "I wanted my quality of life back," she says. "And now I have it."

Contact OB/GYN

To contact a specialist Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, call 1-800-667-5356.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted July 2010

Contact Information

Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
East Campus, Shapiro 8
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215