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Washington Hospital Gynecologist Talks About Minimally Invasive Treatment Options

April 12, 2011

 

Do You Suffer from Pain, Bloating, Excessive Bleeding?

If you suffer from pain, bloating, excessive bleeding, or other gynecological problems, you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive treatment option that could help you get your life back.

"We can provide minimally invasive treatment options for many common conditions," said Dr. Stacey Barrie, a gynecologist and member of the Washington Hospital medical staff. "Minimally invasive procedures generally have shorter recovery times than more invasive surgical techniques, allowing women to get back to their normal activities sooner."

Barrie will present "Minimally Invasive Treatment for Hysterectomy" on Tuesday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. The free seminar will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditoriums, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West) in Fremont. You can register online at www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070 for more information.

She will discuss three women’s health issues and the minimally invasive procedures that are available to treat them, including uterine fibroids, excessive menstruation, and incontinence.

Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow on the wall of the uterus and are almost always noncancerous, Barrie explained. They can grow as a single tumor or there can be many of them. Fibroids can be tiny like a seed or the size of a grapefruit.

She said fibroids are a common condition among women, particularly as they age. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms, which can include heavy bleeding, bloating, pressure on the bladder or rectum, frequent urination, pain during sex, and reproductive problems.

Researchers don’t know what causes fibroids, Barrie said, but some women seem to be more at risk for developing them. Risk factors include age (over 30), family history, ethnic origin, obesity, and eating habits, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids along with women who consume large amounts of red meat.

For some women, the best course of treatment for fibroids is to remove the uterus through a surgical procedure called a hysterectomy. Barrie will explain how a minimally invasive hysterectomy is performed through small incisions using two robotic arms and a tiny camera.

Robotic Arms are Precise and Flexible

"The camera is three dimensional, so I get a much clearer view inside the patient," she said. "The robotic arms are very precise and flexible. They move in ways that aren’t possible with manual surgical tools."

Fibroids can lead to excessive bleeding, but they are not the only cause. Heavy menstrual bleeding can also result from hormonal changes, pregnancy complications, trauma, medications like blood thinners, pelvic inflammatory disease, stress, changes in diet and exercise routines, and a number of other reasons, according to Barrie.

She will explain how a minimally invasive procedure called endometrial ablation is used to treat excessive menstruation. Endometrial ablation destroys the lining of the uterus and the scar tissue that forms prevents bleeding.

"Basically we cauterize the lining of the uterus," Barrie said. "This procedure is for women who have completed their child-bearing years."

Incontinence is often the result of the wear and tear caused by childbirth, according to Barrie. Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. Some women may lose a few drops of urine during certain activities like running, coughing, or sneezing. Others may feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine, she explained.

While incontinence is more common in older women, it is not an inevitable part of aging; it is a medical condition, Barrie said. It occurs when there are problems with the muscles and nerves that control the holding and releasing of urine.

She will discuss a minimally invasive technique being used to treat incontinence called a suburethral sling. The procedure helps to bolster the ligament that attaches the urethra to the pubic bone, Barrie explained.

"We are seeing a lot of success with these types of minimally invasive procedures," she said. "In fact, I use the minimally invasive laparoscopic technique for more than 90 percent of the hysterectomies I perform."

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