UW Hospital Pioneers Gynecological Surgery Which Permits Cancer Staging
Madison, Wisconsin - 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.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Niaimi, a gynecologic oncology surgeon and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, has begun treating uterine-cancer patients using a "single-port laparoscopic" procedure.
UW is one of a few hospitals in the U.S. to do this type of operation, which minimizes unsightly abdominal scars for patients, and may reduce pain and infections.
Laparoscopic surgeries, first introduced in the 1990s, involve use of thin lighted tubes inserted through several small incisions or ports in the abdomen. This eliminates the need for open incisions that required hospital stays up to five days and home recuperation of six weeks.
According to Al-Niaimi, use of single-port procedures began three years ago for simple operations such as removal of the ovaries and the 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."
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 said. "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 30 women have had the procedure since it was introduced in October. Most were able to leave the hospital the next day and return to normal activity in two to three weeks.
Al-Niaimi said the recovery time for single port is no different than using multiple ports. However, the operation leaves only one scar that can hardly be seen with superior outcome. A single scar could also mean less pain and infection risk for patients.
"There's also less need for blood transfusions and less cost to the hospital and the national health care system when you use a single port," 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."
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 44,000 women were diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2009, the earliest year figures were compiled, and 7,700 died.
Date Published: 03/25/2013