• Doctor and robotic surgical device

da Vinci Robotic Surgery

Means Less Pain after Hysterectomy and Pelvic Floor Repair

Pelvic organ prolapse – when a woman’s bladder, uterus, or rectum slips down through the vaginal canal – is a topic most women avoid, even with their doctors.

Until recently, Shundra Broughton of Riverdale was one of them. In fact, the 43-year-old mother of two was dealing with a prolapsed uterus, a bladder that wasn’t far behind and painful uterine fibroids that caused excessive bleeding.

“The last two to three years were horrible,” she explains. “The cramping was almost unbearable.”

Even worse were the menstrual cycles that lasted two to three weeks. They interfered with her active lifestyle and her job – and caused anemia from extreme blood loss.

Shundra’s problems required multiple fixes. Thankfully, she received a referral to board-certified obstetrician/ gynecologist Pierre Johnson, MD, an expert in minimally invasive gynecological surgery using the da Vinci robotic system at Ingalls.

“Prolapse (or falling) of any pelvic floor organs occurs when the connective tissues or muscles become weakened and aren’t able to hold the pelvis in its natural position,” Dr. Johnson explains.

When they’re working like they should, pelvic floor muscles are strong enough to support these organs and keep them in place – yet flexible enough for women to give birth and maintain normal bodily functions such as urination and bowel movements. If they become weakened or stretched, one or more pelvic organs can fall out of place.

Symptoms include pelvic pressure, the feeling of a “lump” protruding through the vagina, problems having a bowel movement, urination issues, lower back pain and painful sex.

“The most common causes are vaginal childbirth, menopause, chronic coughing or straining, heavy lifting or obesity,” Dr. Johnson adds. “However, the major contributors are genetics and age. The older a woman is, the more likely she may start to experience prolapse.”

If the problems become severe, surgery may be the best option.

For Shundra, treatment consisted of a combination of two procedures: robotic-assisted supracervical hysterectomy to eliminate the fibroids and excessive bleeding and a sacrocolpopexy to reinforce the weakened pelvic muscles.

During sacrocolpopexy, surgeons use mesh to support the weakened muscles, keep the pelvic organs where they belong and ease symptoms.

The highly sophisticated da Vinci system gives surgeons a three-dimensional, high-definition view inside the body; special wristed instruments that bend and rotate more nimbly than the human hand; and enhanced vision, precision and control. As a result, patients experience fewer complications, less blood loss, a shorter hospital stay and less pain after surgery.

Shundra can attest to all of the above. “I didn’t have a lot of pain afterwards, and instead of a long six-week leave from my job, I worked from home for two to three weeks,” she said. “I didn’t even have stitches, just surgical tape.”

“If you’ve been diagnosed with vaginal prolapse, uterine prolapse or any other prolapse condition, you should consider all your treatment options and work with your doctor to identify the best treatment option for you,” Dr. Johnson explained. “You may be a candidate for da Vinci surgery.”

Depending on a patient’s age, lifestyle and desires, there are non-surgical options to treat prolapse, including a plastic pessary device that fits into the vagina to help support the uterus, vagina, bladder or rectum.

For more information about da Vinci robotic-assisted surgery at Ingalls, call Ingalls Care Connection at 708.915.CARE (2273).

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