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New Minimally Invasive Procedures Are a Plus for Busy Women

May 01, 2012

Many American women lead lives filled with work, family and an endless array of other commitments, interests and activities. As a result, they sometimes neglect the important responsibility of taking care of their own health.

This can be especially true when it comes to treating many gynecological health needs. For one thing, women fear any necessary surgery will cause them to be incapacitated, off of work and unable to fulfill their busy schedule for an extended period of time. Today, with some of the latest minimally invasive technologies and techniques, this is no longer the case.

"A number of leading-edge, minimally invasive procedures are now available as alternatives to traditional surgery for women who need sterilization or treatment for heavy menstruation or incontinence without requiring an extended period of immobilization or inactivity," states Stacey Barrie, M.D., a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist with Washington Township Medical Foundation who specializes in minimally invasive gynecological surgery.

"Many busy women are not yet aware of the benefits of these procedures, and they may be unnecessarily enduring the discomfort, inconvenience and disruption to their lives caused by some common gynecological conditions," Dr. Barrie points out.

Women can now undergo permanent contraception without the need for an abdominal incision. The safe, simple treatment requires only a local anesthetic and can be done in the doctor's office. Two such procedures are called Adiana and Essure. The physician uses a device called a hysteroscope to visualize the woman's Fallopian tubes. Then, a small coil or plug is inserted into each tube. Over the next three months, scarring develops at the site of the insert and this creates a barrier in the tube so sperm can no longer reach the egg. After three months, a special X-ray, called a hysterosalpingogram, is needed to confirm that the procedure has been successful.

"With this permanent method of birth control, women don't have to lose any time away from work and they are not required to take hormones or use intrauterine devices," reports Dr. Barrie. "The procedures are effective 97 percent to 99 percent of the time."

For women who suffer from heavy menstruation due to a build-up of the lining of the uterus, there is now a minimally invasive endometrial ablation procedure called NovaSure. With ablation, precisely measured radiofrequency energy is applied to the lining of the uterus, destroying the cause of the bleeding. For many women, menstrual bleeding stops completely after they have the procedure.

This quick, painless, effective procedure is for any woman who believes her periods are too heavy. There is no need for her to take hormones, and about 85 percent of women who have the surgery are satisfied with the outcome. If the procedure does fail, which happens about 15 percent of the time, further surgery will be required to treat the heavy menstruation. NovaSure is intended only for women who do not plan any further pregnancies.

"Women should not have to put up with heavy menstrual bleeding," comments Dr. Barrie. "The problem causes them to lose days at work or school, and they often worry about extra bleeding staining their clothing. This problem can also interfere with sleep, as a woman may have to get up to change her sanitary protection during the night."

Another reason for heavy menstruation can be fibroid tumors in the uterus, which can also cause infertility. A minimally invasive procedure called MyoSure removes fibroids and polyps using a small hysteroscopic morcellator, which crushes the tissue of large, hardened masses. No incision is necessary, and the surgeon observes the procedure through a tiny camera, which is part of the hysteroscope.

"With this quick, safe treatment, we can deal with many fibroids we were not able to treat previously," adds Dr. Barrie. "The speed of this procedure and the visualization it allows me, as the surgeon, are vastly superior."

Urinary incontinence is another problem that can disrupt the lives of many women. With the new, FDA-approved MiniArc Sling System, a small, synthetic mesh sling is placed under the patient's urethra through a single 1.5-centimeter incision.

"This super-quick procedure is great for women who don't have a lot of time," explains Dr. Barrie. "It is very easy to perform, and the initial data shows that it is nearly as effective as some of the more traditional surgeries for incontinence, which require a longer, more painful recovery. We don't, as yet, have a lot of long-term studies."

Dr. Barrie has been practicing in Fremont for the past 13 years. For more information about her and the Washington Township Medical Foundation, go to www.mywtmf.com.

Learn more

Stacey Barrie, M.D., will present "Minimally Invasive Treatment for Gynecological Issues" on Thursday, May 10, from Noon to 1 p.m. The free Lunch 'N Learn seminar will be held at the Washington Women's Center, 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.

For more information about minimally invasive procedures for women's sterilization, as well as heavy menstruation and incontinence, visit www.hologic.com and www.essure.com.

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