GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Gynecologists at Northeast Georgia Medical Center are now performing single incision laparoscopic (SILS) hysterectomies at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC). This new application for single port access surgeries means that women in northeast Georgia have more options when faced with a hysterectomy.
"Traditionally, women have had three options," says Jason Bailey, MD, an OB/GYN with Lakeside OB/GYN and Pelvic Surgery, LLC, in Gainesville who performed the first SILS hysterectomy at NGMC. "They could either have traditional surgery that requires a four to five inch incision though the abdomen, a vaginal hysterectomy or a laparoscopic hysterectomy. Of course depending upon the case, these still may be the most appropriate approach, but in many cases, we are able to use the SILS hysterectomy approach."
SILS hysterectomies use a special device, or access port, that allows a surgeon to use one entry point, typically at the base of the belly button, into the abdomen instead of the three to four entry points used in a traditional laparoscopic case. Not only does this method have more desirable cosmetic results, virtually scarless, but it also allows for a quicker recovery time.
"The incision is buried at the based of the belly button," says Dr. Bailey, "which gives a surgeon exactly the access to the abdomen and pelvis that he/she needs. Because of this entry location, there is virtually no scarring, and what scarring there is can usually be hidden by the belly button itself. More importantly, the recovery time can be drastically reduced. Usually, the most painful part of recovery from a traditional laparoscopic hysterectomy is the lateral entry points, especially the ones on the lateral abdomen. By completing the entire procedure through the belly button, not only do we cut through less muscle, but there are fewer nerve endings located at the site, making for a speedier and less painful recovery."
"Over time, there has been so much improvement in laparoscopic surgical techniques, that we are now able to perform very complex procedures through one single incision," adds Jeff Reinhardt, MD, an OB/GYN with the Center for Women’s Health at The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville. "This provides us with one more therapeutic option to offer our patients and allows us to better tailor our care to each individual patient."
Some women may not be candidates for a SILS hysterectomy depending on a variety of factors, including uterine size; however, Frank Lake, Jr., MD, an OB/GYN with Heritage OB/GYN in Gainesville, says the SILS procedure also offers gynecologists flexibility.
"One advantage of this type of surgery is that we have the option to move to a traditional laparoscopic procedure if we need to," he says. "We can start with one incision for the instruments but then add more if the case requires it."
On average, patients that choose to have a SILS hysterectomy can expect to be out of work for one week or less and stop taking pain medicine within three to four days after surgery. This is compared to a traditional open procedure that takes six to eight weeks of recovery, a vaginal hysterectomy that takes two to four weeks of recovery, or a traditional laparoscopic hysterectomy that takes one to three weeks of recovery time.
Sonya Richie, RN, a nurse with Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, underwent a SILS hysterectomy at NGMC in July.
"Since I would be one of the first SILS hysterectomy cases at NGMC, I was a little hesitant," says Richie. "Often, nurses are finicky when it comes to our own health care; we analyze everything. However, after Dr. Bailey explained the procedure to me and the benefits, I didn’t have to think much about it; it made a lot of sense to me."
Richie says she recovered quickly and was back to work sooner than she anticipated.
"It was a much easier experience than I had anticipated," she says. "My incision is virtually invisible, and my healing went very well. This is definitely a new age for women!"
In addition to hysterectomies, surgeons at NGMC are using single port access (SPA) surgeries for appendectomies, cholestectomies (gallbladder removal) and colon resection. For more information about single incision hysterectomies or other advanced surgical procedures at NGMC, call 770-219-3840 or visit www.nghs.com.