Menstrual Bleeding

Women who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding, incontinence and other embarrassing gynecologic symptoms have long kept these issues private. Not only are some women's health issues difficult to discuss, the fear of surgery and long recovery times often causes women to delay getting a diagnosis and seeking treatment.

New minimally invasive technology at the forefront of women's health is changing the conversation. "When we perform surgery through a few tiny incisions instead of one large one, women experience less pain and blood loss, minimal scarring and a quicker recovery," explains Bridget Keller, MD, Park Nicollet Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The world's most advanced surgical system

One of the technologies helping women recover more quickly is the da VinciR Surgical System, which is the most advanced robotic surgical system in the world and is being used locally at Park Nicollet. Using da Vinci, surgeons control robotic arms from a console, manipulating them as if they were their own wrists, hands and fingers, but with even greater precision. The system also has a high-powered video system that provides three-dimensional high-definition magnification.

The experts who use the technology

"We have seven gynecologists and one urogynecologist who use da Vinci," Dr. Keller says. "To date, they have performed more than 200 procedures - the most in the Twin Cities."

It's becoming common for gynecologists to use da Vinci to treat endometriosis, a condition that causes painful menstrual periods. They also may use it to perform hysterectomy (the removal of the uterus) and myomectomy (the removal of uterine fibroids).

Urogynecolgists also may use da Vinci to treat pelvic prolapse and incontinence, a condition that often results from a lack of pelvic floor support. In gynecologic oncology, surgeons use this system to remove cancer of the cervix and endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and ovaries.

If da Vinci is not the right option for a particular case, there are other minimally invasive techniques, including traditional laparoscopy and hysteroscopy, which continue to provide good results for women.

Other options - and choices

Although the latest technology is useful, there are times when it's necessary to use the tried-and-true. "If a woman is a candidate for a vaginal hysterectomy, that often is the best option," Dr. Keller says. "And sometimes, a uterine fibroid is too large to be removed with da Vinci , making traditional surgery necessary." When that's the case and a woman undergoes open abdominal surgery, Park Nicollet has a rapid recovery program to help shorten her recovery time. "This multi-disciplinary program involves coordinated care between our anesthesiologists and recovery nurses, who encourage patients to be active shortly after surgery to help speed recovery."