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Minimally invasive gynecological surgery offers quicker recovery

At Baptist Health Louisville, experienced surgeons use minimally invasive technologies to perform a variety of common but often complex gynecologic procedures, including hysterectomies (benign or cancerous), lymph node dissections, ovarian cysts, vaginal prolapse repair and bladder suspension. In many cases, laparoscopic and robotic surgery has replaced traditional, open surgery, reducing women’s anxiety and allowing them to resume their normal life sooner.

Minimally invasive techniques offer numerous benefits to patients, including:

  • minimal scarring
  • reduced postoperative pain
  • less blood loss and fewer transfusions
  • lower risk of infection
  • less tissue damage
  • shorter hospital stays and recovery time
  • faster return to normal activities
  • effective clinical outcomes

While physicians first attempt to relieve symptoms using lifestyle changes, medication and/or non-invasive procedures, surgery may become a necessary treatment option. Minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons work with each patient to determine the best treatments, for the individual's situation and needs.

Minimally invasive surgery is an option for the following procedures:

Laparoscopic Surgery for Hysterectomy

At Baptist Louisville, laparoscopic surgery has long been a preferred, minimally invasive option over traditional surgery for many patients requiring a hysterectomy due to conditions such as pelvic pain, pelvic prolapse and incontinence, uterine fibroids, advanced endometriosis and heavy uterine bleeding. Experienced surgeons use laparoscopes to remove the uterus, and patients usually go home within one day.

In minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures, a surgeon makes one or more small incisions, then inserts a tube or tubes, often called ports, portals or keyholes. These ports let the surgeon slip in tiny video cameras, miniature fiber-optic flashlights and specially designed surgical instruments to perform the procedure. High-definition monitors provide the surgical team with a magnified, enhanced view of the surgical site.

da Vinci Surgical System for Hysterectomy

Surgeons at Baptist Louisville use specially designed robots to give them even more precision and flexibility in the operating room. The da Vinci Surgical System provides three-dimensional imaging and highly maneuverable instruments that help a surgeon navigate women’s anatomy.

The instruments duplicate the range of motion of a surgeon’s hands and provide 3-D magnified visualization. The robotic approach has proven effective for patients who require hysterectomy because of both benign and cancerous conditions, including cervical and ovarian cancer. This is also ideal for patients with scar tissue from prior surgeries and large fibroids.

Whereas traditional, open surgery requires a large abdominal incision, robotic surgery only requires tiny, less intrusive incisions. Hospital stays are usually one night, and most patients resume normal activities within two weeks.

During a da Vinci procedure, a surgeon directs the movement of miniature, specially designed instruments from a console a few feet away from the operating table. The surgeon sees a magnified, three-dimensional view of the surgical area that provides greater visual detail than traditional surgery.  Other members of the surgical team stand by the operating table to assist, closely monitoring the patient and the robot-controlled laparoscopic instruments.

The system improves the surgeon’s precision by providing articulation and wrist mobility, and filtering out any hand tremors.

Bladder Suspension/Surgery for urinary incontinence

Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, medications and other changes may cause a woman to experience urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, one of the most common urinary conditions in women. Baptist Louisville gynecologists use a variety of methods to treat urinary incontinence, including pelvic floor exercises, behavioral therapy, medical therapies and surgical repair.

To correct some cases of urinary incontinence, physicians at Baptist Louisville perform bladder suspension, a surgery that involves pushing the bladder up, securing the connective tissue between the bladder and vagina, then supporting the urethra using mesh or a sling. This sacrocolpopexy procedure may be done robotically, using the da Vinci Surgical System, or by using a minimally invasive laparoscopic technique. Both require only a short hospital stay and allow patients to return to normal activities quickly.

Types of incontinence include:

  • Urge incontinence: Urine leakage accompanied by sudden and persistent urges to urinate. Urge incontinence may be caused by an infection or another cause of bladder irritation.
  • Stress incontinence: Urine leakage due to physical actions that place stress on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing or laughing. Stress incontinence is usually caused by weakened structural support to the bladder.
  • Overflow incontinence: Urine leakage occurs because the bladder cannot empty correctly. Overflow incontinence may be caused by a weakened bladder or blocked urethra.

For more information, or for a physician referral, call the Baptist Health Information Center at
(502) 897-8131.