Newark, NJ -- In May 2005, Ida McIntyre, 39, of Piscataway, a senior compensation analyst, showed up for her routine gynecological examination at the office of Michael C. Pitter, MD. She had consistently taken the exam over the years. Though, for some reason in 2004, she had forgotten. She was now back on track, at least she thought so until Dr. Pitter, an Ob/Gyn surgeon at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC), told her during the examination that he felt something, possibly a cyst or a uterine fibroid tumor (UFT). Ms. McIntyre was instructed to have an ultrasound exam, which confirmed that she did a large transmural fibroid measuring five (5) centimeters and a complex ovarian cyst.
Ms. McIntyre's first instinct was to wait and see if her health problems would go away. By the summer, McIntyre learned that the fibroid was actually growing. She had to make a decision about her health. Dr. Pitter informed Ms. McIntyre about her options for treatment: Having the traditional surgery for removal of the tumors or to undergo a less invasive procedure known as a laproscopic or the da Vinci myomectomy, a robotic-assisted procedure.Traditionally, a myomectomy procedure which keeps the uterus intact, is offered to women in childbearing years as an alternative to a hysterectomy.
In traditional surgery, a myomectomy is often performed through a large abdominal incision. After removing each fibroid, the surgeon carefully repairs the uterus, to minimize potential bleeding, infection and scarring. Proper repair of the uterus is critical to reducing the risk of uterine rupture during pregnancy which could result in loss of the pregnancy and /or potentially life threatening intra-abdominal bleeding.
With robotic surgery, the surgeon is able to operate through several small incisions about the size of a dime. The benefits of robotics over traditional surgical
approaches include shorter hospital stay; less pain; less risk of wound infection; less blood loss and need for blood transfusions; less scarring; faster recovery and quicker return to normal activities. A surgeon performing a robotic assisted laparoscopic myomectomy is able to perform the same complex and delicate procedures as the traditional approach without compromising the outcome or patient safety.
The da Vinci robotic system used by surgeons at NBIMC consist of surgeon's console, a patient side cart, a high performance 3-D vision system and Endo Wrist
articulating instruments. In the operating room during robotic surgery, the surgeon sits at the console with his hands on the master controls and his eyes on a 3-D image of the surgical field. From the patient-side cart, four robotic arms and one endoscope arm precisely translate the surgeon's movements through small incisions in the patient.
After doing some research which included visiting the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center website to learn more about laproscopic and robotic procedures, Ms.
McIntyre decided months later to try the less-invasive approach. On November 9, 2005, Dr. Pitter performed a robotic myomectomy at NBIMC to remove Ms. McIntyre's uterine fibroid using the da Vinci Surgical system. At the same time, the ovarian cyst was removed laproscopically. This procedure involves making a small incision above or just below the navel to allow insertion of a lighted instrument (laproscope) similar to a slender telescope to give the surgeon a view of the patient's organs.
Ms. McIntyre says that since her surgery, she had not had any major side effects.
Post operative, she had some abdominal discomfort which she took pain killers to
alleviate. She had minimal spotting and no infection. McIntyre says that she would encourage other women to strongly consider having the procedure. More importantly, she advises women to keep their annual gynecological examinations. "My gynecologist like other gynecologists are trained to know what to feel for during an examination. They know what's normal and what's not, "she says. "Although, I didn't have any obvious symptoms, before my annual examination, I was like a walking time bomb." McIntyre feels better knowing that her body is healthier and that she can now exercise her options of possibly having a baby one day.
More than 25% of American women or one in five women, over the age of 35
have uterine fibroids. Out of the 600,000 women in America who undergo a
hysterectomy or the removal of the uterus, one third of the cases are related to fibroid problems. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. There are three types of uterine fibroid tumors: submucous fibroids which grow into the uterine cavity, mural fibroids are located inside the uterine wall and fibroids that protrude outside the uterine wall are called subserous fibroids. If left untreated, a uterine fibroid can cause symptoms such as an increase in pain and bleeding with or without menstruation and in some cases complicate pregnancies. The most common symptoms women experience with uterine fibroid tumors are heavy menstrual bleeding; pelvic pain; pressure on the bladder: pressure on the rectum; infertility; miscarriage or anemia. Surprisingly, some women like Ms. McIntyre, have no symptoms at all.
McIntyre's other health concern was an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts not to be confused with uterine fibroids, are enlargements on the ovary that appear to be filled with fluid. They can be a simple fluids or solid components. Those with complex structures are of greater concern to doctors as they can be cancerous. Once a cyst is found, the gynecologist will check over a period of time to see if the cyst shrinks, if not, a blood test will be given to check for cancer. Laproscopic surgery is often performed to remove complex cysts.
If you are having some of the symptoms described and have not had your annual gynecological exam, please consult with your physician. To learn more about robotic myomectomy surgery at NBIMC, call 1 (800) THE-BETH.
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an affiliate of the Saint Barnabas
Health Care System, is a 671-bed regional referral teaching hospital
with specialized programs including heart and kidney transplantation,
cardiac surgery, oncology, and maternal/child health services.
Children's Hospital of New Jersey is the state's premier hospital
caring for children with specialized services to treat ill and
injured children from newborn through adolescent years, including
more than 30 pediatric specialties.
Date: January 4, 2006
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