Published on November 17, 2017

Robotic Procedure ‘Life-Changing’ for Women with Endometriosis

TUPELO, Miss.—Brittany Terry of Tishomingo says she feels like a new woman.

Terry suffered from heavy menstrual cycles for many years and tolerated them with help from birth control pills. But when she and her husband began trying to start their family and she stopped taking the pill early in 2015, the cycles became horrendous.

“I would lose so much blood that I would almost pass out,” Terry said.

Her doctor at the time suspected endometriosis, which happens when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows into areas outside the uterus. He recommended a laparoscopic procedure to correct it in August 2015. “I felt better for a month or two, but then it came back with a vengeance,” she said. She also retained fluid, and her feet swelled to the point she had to buy larger shoes.

“My doctor told me that it wouldn’t kill me,” she said, “and that I would just have to learn to live with it.”

She did live with it for a while, but then she sought a second opinion from Miguel Luna, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist with Sanders Clinic for Women in Tupelo. “Our first line of treatment for endometriosis is usually medication,” Dr. Luna explained. “When that doesn’t work, we consider surgery.”

There are two main options: open surgery through one large incision, which requires a two to three night hospital stay, and minimally invasive surgery through a few small incisions, after which the patient is discharged home the same day. Minimally invasive surgery can be done using traditional laparoscopy or the da Vinci robotic surgery system. Dr. Luna told her about robotic endometriosis resection, which removes lesions of endometriosis while preserving a woman’s uterus, tubes and ovaries, as much as possible.

The robotic surgical system provides the surgeon high-definition 3D images and the ability to zoom in and out, which helps find endometrial lesions that may have been overlooked otherwise. The surgeon controls special instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human hand, giving the ability to complete difficult dissections (separating of tissue).

“The incisions are small, the pain level is very low and recovery time is short,” Dr. Luna adds. Women who have a robotically-assisted procedure are shown to have fewer complications and less blood loss.

“The incisions are small, the pain level is very low and recovery time is short,” Dr. Luna adds. Women who have a robotically-assisted procedure are shown to have fewer complications and less blood loss.

Terry had the procedure done at the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital in August 2016. “Dr. Luna found several spots of endometriosis on my bladder, and that’s why I was retaining so much fluid,” she said.

She went home the afternoon of surgery and took it easy for a few days. “I went to church Sunday morning and back to work Monday,” she said. “Everybody could tell that I had done a complete 180.”

Both she and her surgeon encourage women who are suffering from endometriosis to examine all their options. “Women are taught to put up with it,” Dr. Luna said. “But that’s not normal. You shouldn’t be missing school or work because of your menstrual cycle. It should not be debilitating.”

“I would highly recommend (the robotic endometriosis resection),” Terry said. “It was life-changing for me.”

For more information about this and other robotically-assisted surgical procedures at NMMC Women’s Hospital, call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).

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