An Alternative to Traditional Gynecological Surgery

By Darin Swainston, MD

The common treatment for uterine fibroids and severe menorrhagia has been a hysterectomy, requiring invasive surgery, the use of general anesthesia and four to six weeks of recovery at home. In today’s world, however, women often find it difficult to take time away from being a mother, wife and professional for such a major surgical procedure. Physicians at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center can treat these conditions through a less invasive procedure called hysteroscopic ablation, instead of requiring a hysterectomy.  The use of hysteroscopic ablation to treat these conditions has only recently been embraced by gynecologists with the advent of the new surgical equipment

One-quarter to one-third of women who are of reproductive age suffer from uterine fibroids, benign tumors of muscular or fibrous tissue that form on the wall of the uterus. Current treatments for this condition include a combination of long-term drug therapy and invasive surgery, requiring a lengthy recovery and sometimes causing infertility. Women who have uterine fibroids, polyps or adhesions can be treated while the endometrial lining of the uterus is left intact — preserving fertility in the majority of cases. The physician uses an electrode inserted into the uterus through a hysteroscope. Once the electrode is in contact with the fibrous tissue, the physician activates the system, instantly vaporizing the tissue. The patient can return home the day of surgery and expect one to four days of recovery.

Physicians can also stop unwanted bleeding from menorrhagia through hysteroscopic ablation. In this procedure, the endometrial lining of the uterus, the primary source of the menstrual bleeding, is removed. In many cases, this procedure, done on an outpatient basis, is an alternative to more intensive surgical procedures, like a hysterectomy. In fact, more than 30 percent of hysterectomies performed in the United States each year are reportedly done to stop menorrhagia.

There are significantly fewer associated surgical risks involved with the procedures than with traditional more invasive alternatives. The patient’s post-surgery discomfort and recovery time are also decreased. For many women who have very active and busy lifestyles, the recovery time associated with traditional procedures would be a hardship, considering the demands of their lives, which makes these procedures very attractive.

Darin Swainston, MD, is an OB/GYN. Physicians are independent contractors who are not agents or employees of Summerlin Hospital Medical Center.