They are often silent sufferers, but many of the 5.5 million women who have this medical condition would like to find relief.
“Endometriosis is a very common condition; it occurs in about 15% of women. It’s associated with pelvic pain and infertility. It can be very disabling,” says Dr. Kevin Fleishman, an obstetrician/gynecologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Affecting women in their reproductive years, endometriosis is the abnormal growth of cells outside of the uterus.
“It’s cells similar to endometrial cells that can grow any where out in the pelvis, the most common location being on and around the uterus in the pelvis on the fallopian tubes,” says Dr. Fleishman.
Endometrial cells are supposed to leave the body during a women’s menstrual cycle. Instead, they attach themselves to tissue where they implant. This can cause the painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, even infertility.
The goal is to get rid of the endometriosis altogether. Standard treatment was to electrocauterize, or burn the tissue, but its success was limited.
“It’s thought that those are very incomplete treatments and allows the women to continue to have pain and to continue to need repetitive surgery. However, if you can completely excise the lesion, the recovery is much quicker with a much lower chance of needing further surgeries,” says Dr. Fleishman.
That’s where robotic surgery comes in. The da Vinci robot is quickly becoming the tool of choice.
“The da Vinci robot gives you seven ranges of motion. So you have a lot more dexterity. It’s a lot easier to avoid structures that you don’t want to injure and it allows you to completely remove lesions that you’d like to remove,” says Dr. Fleishman.
Usually done in an outpatient setting, the procedure gets women back to living their normal lives, without the killer cramps.
“It’s a real good fit for gynecologic surgery, because we like to cause the least amount of pain and the quickest return to normal functioning,” says Dr. Fleishman.