Hysterectomies with shorter recovery times
Robert Grayson, MD, is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz. He can be reached at (480) 222-0699 or (480) 785-2100.
Question: My doctor is recommending a hysterectomy, but I can't take time for a six-week recovery period... what are my options?
Answer: Women facing a hysterectomy today have many more options than their mothers and grandmothers. In the hands of a skilled and well-versed physician, minimally invasive options are available in most, if not all, situations. These options include:
- Laparoscopic Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy: The surgeon uses specialized laparoscopic instruments to separate the uterus from its internal attachment. The procedure is then completed vaginally with separation of the cervix from the top of the vagina thus allowing the uterus to be removed through the vaginal opening.
- Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the uterus while preserving the cervix. This is done entirely through small laparoscopic incisions by using specialized instruments, including a device that allows for the reduction of the uterus for removal through the belly button. By leaving the cervix, which is the support of the upper vagina, in place, its nerves and blood supply are preserved. With no vaginal or significant abdominal incision, post-operative discomfort is minimized and recovery with return to normal activity is markedly reduced.
- Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: When removal of the cervix is necessary or desired, the same procedure can be performed, but with removal of both the cervix and the uterus. With the aid of laparoscopic visualization, the supporting tissues previously attached to the cervix can be laparoscopically reattached to the top of the vagina for support.
- Robotic Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: An experienced gynecologic robotic laparoscopic surgeon can perform virtually any gynecologic procedure through small laparoscopic incisions. Along with the procedures above, robotic applications are particularly helpful in cases requiring meticulous dissection, such as in the case of ovarian preservation for ovarian masses, removal of endometriosis, complex support procedures for the upper vagina and in cancer surgery.
With these less invasive options, women will experience significantly less pain, less blood loss, less scarring, shorter hospital stays and much faster return to normal daily activities. In a large metropolitan area, like the valley of the sun, these options are readily available to you. You should always ask your doctor about ALL treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits.