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Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Procedures on the Rise

By Heather Maloney
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center staff

For two years, 39-year-old mom Nancy Longobardi had 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 months. So, she decided to have a hysterectomy performed laparoscopically.

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 Fallopian tubes may be removed as well, a procedure called salpingo-oophorectomy.

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 - between 5 millimeters and 1 centimeter - 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 - and less post-operative pain. The procedure also causes less scarring compared to a traditional hysterectomy.

"The popularity of this procedure is on the rise," says Dr. Hye-Chun Hur, Director of the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Laparoscopic hysterectomies have become more popular in the last five to 10 years, and the number of laparoscopic procedures performed at BIDMC has increased multi-fold in just the last few years."

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the U.S. 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.

There are many different ways to do hysterectomy surgery, including abdominal, vaginal and laparoscopical approaches; 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 of the options with your 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.

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

Posted September 2011

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