A new hysterectomy procedure that leaves no scars and causes little pain has been performed at Mater Private Hospital Springfield for the first time.
The minimally invasive surgery, known as Vaginal Natural Orifice Transluminal Endoscopic Surgery (vNOTES), involves using specialised instruments through the vagina and into the pelvic cavity.
The new procedure is now performed by Mater gynaecologist Dr James McLaren at the Springfield hospital.
Like all hysterectomies, vNOTES involves the removal of the uterus and fallopian tubes – and ovaries, if necessary – but eliminates the need for surgical incisions in the patient’s abdomen.
Kylie Godfrey, 49, of Logan Village, underwent the surgery in December, and said that as a result her life has changed dramatically.
“I had really hideous menstrual cycles and was in lots of pain,” Mrs Godfrey said.
Although previously aware of vNOTES, Mrs Godfrey said she had postponed the surgery until it was available at a hospital closer to home.
“I knew the recovery time was quicker, and I have had next to no pain since having the procedure,” the executive assistant office manager explained.
She said she was “up and about straight after surgery – and home the next day.”
She also said that looking after her five-year-old granddaughter Ruby had been “much easier” following the procedure.
“My advice to any woman putting up with bleeding and pain is to look into having this procedure done – it was life-changing for me.”
Each year in Australia, more than 32,000 hysterectomies are performed.
The three most common ways to perform a hysterectomy include vaginal, laparoscopic (or keyhole) surgery, and abdominal surgery, which leaves the patient with a scar on their stomach similar to that of a caesarean section.
Dr McLaren studied the technique while working at London’s King’s College Hospital and is one of only a handful of Queensland surgeons qualified to perform the procedure.
“Compared with an abdominal hysterectomy procedure, where recovery can take up to six weeks, minimally invasive approaches such as vNOTES provide obvious benefits such as faster recovery, less postoperative pain, and decreased blood loss,” Dr McLaren said.
Removal of fallopian tubes at the time of hysterectomy has been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Other benefits include reduced operating times and shorter recovery times in hospitals, Dr McLaren added.
Since introducing the procedure at Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane in March, last year, Dr McLaren has performed 18 vNOTES hysterectomies.
They can be performed for a number of conditions such as uterine fibroids, prolapse of the uterus, pelvic pain, abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding, and painful periods.
Dr McLaren said there were a number of alternative treatment options available before a hysterectomy was required.
“Vaginal, laparoscopic, abdominal, and vNOTES hysterectomies all have their place and the decision on which is the best approach should be individualised and discussed with the patient,” he said.
“vNOTES won’t replace our alternative approaches to hysterectomy but it is a fantastic option for our patients.
“Mater has also implemented an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program for certain patients undergoing gynaecological procedures, including vNOTES hysterectomies, to provide select patients the option of going home on the same day as surgery,” he said.
For more information about the hospital and its services, visit mater.org.au/health/hospitals/mater-private-hospital-springfield.
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