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Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

  • A type of gynecologic surgery that involves smaller incisions and shorter recovery time
  • For patients with conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, and others
  • Sometimes a minimally invasive procedure can bypass the need for a hysterectomy
  • Involves obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences

Overview

During a woman’s lifetime, it's possible to face a reproductive problem that requires evaluation and possible surgery. Some conditions that may require surgery are ovarian cysts, fibroids, abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, or abnormal development of the reproductive tract. 

 “Open” surgery, or surgery performed through traditional large incisions, is associated with longer time in the hospital, increased pain, increased surgical risk, and longer recovery times. Fortunately, minimally invasive surgery is oftentimes an option. Patients are often able to go home on the day of surgery or the next morning with less postoperative pain. Yale Medicine Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility utilizes a minimally invasive surgical approach to treat reproductive conditions.

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery is a surgical approach in which small skin incisions (less than an inch in size) and specialized tools are used to perform the surgery. Procedures include:

Hysteroscopy uses a small, narrow telescope (a hysteroscope) to visualize the uterine cavity without the need for any incisions. This is often performed when evaluating for abnormal uterine bleeding.

Laparoscopy uses a small telescope through small abdominal skin incisions to evaluate the pelvic anatomy. The laparoscope (camera) sends live pictures to a video monitor, which allows the surgeon to visualize the anatomy and perform complex surgeries with minimal trauma to the patient. A subset of laparoscopic surgeries utilize the da Vinci Robot, a surgical tool that may be needed for certain types of surgeries.

What is robotic surgery?

Yale Medicine's surgeons are trained in the da Vinci Surgical System, a robotic tool used in cases that are too complex for traditional laparoscopy alone.

Robotic surgery was approved for gynecological conditions in 2005 and has since opened up the option of minimally invasive surgery for women who otherwise would not have been eligible.

"Before the robotic system, we used to employ large heavy instruments as retractors or forceps or scissors in patient's abdomen," says Dan-Arin Silasi, MD, a Yale Medicine obstetrician-gynecologist. "The robotic system has enabled us to perform the most complex gynecologic cancer surgeries." 

What are some diseases that can be corrected with laparoscopy?

Laparoscopic surgery may be appropriate for the evaluation and treatment of pelvic pain, scar tissue, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts. Laparoscopy is also a commonly utilized approach for the safe removal of the uterus or ovaries.

What are some diseases that can be corrected with hysteroscopy?

Hysteroscopy allows the doctor to see the uterine cavity without any incisions. This procedure is often performed to evaluate causes of abnormal bleeding, pain, fibroids, polyps, intrauterine scar tissue, or other structural issues.

Specialized hysteroscopes even allow for the treatment of these conditions via removal of the fibroids, polyps, or scar tissue. A technique called endometrial ablation can also remove all of the above. Endometrial ablation is a possible treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding.

Can I opt for a minimally invasive procedure instead of hysterectomy?

There are some conditions that may be treated surgically without the need for a hysterectomy. Ask the minimally invasive gynecologist about what procedure and route of surgery is best.

Does Yale Medicine conduct clinical research?

Clinical research is a critical component of patient care. Carefully controlled research studies help answer questions on the best way to treat patients. It's important for patients to find out if current studies are relevant to potential care. 

What is unique about Yale Medicine's approach to minimally invasive surgery for gynecologic issues?

Our team of world-class surgeons and specialists are dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive care to our patients. We offer the most advanced  surgical techniques for both the most complex and most routine cases. 

Our goal is to help you understand your condition, recognize your symptoms, and match you with the treatment that best suits your condition, comfort level, and lifestyle.

Meanwhile, our doctors are active researchers working to advance understanding of issues that affect women. One of our focuses is developing minimally-invasive treatment options, and our patients are the first to benefit from these advances.