American Family Children's Hospital

UW Hospital Pioneers Advanced Gynecological Surgery Technique

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Gynecologic Cancer

A single one-inch incision in the belly button is now all that it takes not only to do a complex surgical procedure but also to stage the cancer, a combination that used to be far more invasive.


Ahmed Al-Niaimi, MD, gynecologic oncology surgeon and assistant professor at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, recently began treating uterine cancer patients using a "single-port laparoscopic" procedure.


UW Hospital and Clinics is one of a few hospitals in the U.S. to perform this type of operation, which minimizes unsightly abdominal scars for patients, and may reduce pain and infections.


According to Dr. Al-Niaimi, use of single-port procedures began three years ago for simple operations such as removal of the ovaries and uterus during hysterectomies.


"This is the first time we have used a single port for a complex, comprehensive surgical staging of cancer," he said. "It may not only involve removing the uterus, but also lymph nodes around the pelvis, bladder, aorta and other areas."


Dr. Al-Niaimi said pathologists analyze the removed organs to determine how much the cancer may have spread beyond the uterus.


"When we started doing the procedure, we were skeptical," he says. "We thought we should try a single port, but obviously patient safety comes first. However, right from the beginning, we were successful. Other doctors are still amazed and surprised we do this operation through a single port."


More than 65 women have had the procedure since it was introduced last fall. Most were able to leave the hospital the next day and return to normal activity in two to three weeks. Dr. Al-Niaimi said the recovery time for single port surgery is no different than using multiple ports. However, the operation results in an single scar and a superior outcome. One scar could also mean less pain and infection risk for patients.


"The technology also means less need for blood transfusions and lower cost to the hospital and the national health care system," he said. "There is nothing magical about the outcome. The magic is that we have done this complex surgery through one port and it does not compromise patient care."