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New Minimally Invasive Options for Gynecologic Surgery at North Shore Medical Center (NSMC)

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Uploaded on Mar 10, 2011

If you ask Diane Goldenberg, 51, what she did this last summer, she'll tell you, "bleed and sleep."

"Practically overnight, I went from having a normal monthly menstrual period, to one that was out of control. The bleeding was so heavy and constant I couldn't go anywhere or do anything for very long. I even slept on a towel at one point. And the extreme blood loss made me severely anemic and beyond exhausted," said Goldenberg. "I was sleeping for more than 14 hours a day. I'd drop the kids at camp and then nap until it was time to pick them up, struggle to stay awake at dinner and then go to right to bed. It was the summer that wasn't."

For a wife and mother of two kids, who tutors learning-disabled children, and volunteers for multiple North Shore organizations and rescues greyhound dogs, this was far from normal.

Assuming she was entering the beginning stages of menopause, Goldenberg initially suffered through the inconvenience and the pain. But, when the bleeding didn't stop after three weeks, Goldenberg made an appointment with her NSMC gynecologist, Mitchell Rein, M.D.

"My mother died of ovarian cancer when she was 67 years old, and I've always been very proactive about cancer screenings and getting regular check ups. I just knew this wasn't normal," she said.

After a biopsy, ultrasound and blood tests ruled out ovarian cancer and fibroids, and taking hormone pills failed to regulate the bleeding, Dr. Rein referred her to NSMC's Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Christopher Coffey, M.D. to discuss her surgical options for treating her abnormal uterine bleeding.

The first option was uterine artery embolization, a minimally invasive procedure often used to treat fibroids and excessive bleeding. But after additional testing revealed that she was not a candidate for that procedure, they decided her best option for relief was a hysterectomy, which could be done with a minimally invasive procedure through three tiny incisions instead of a traditional big, eight-inch abdominal incision.

"When my mother had her hysterectomy, she was in the hospital for a week and in bed for more than six weeks," said Goldenberg. "I was shocked when Dr. Coffey told me I could probably go home the same day and be back to normal within a week or two."

Total laparoscopic hysterectomy (TLH) is performed solely through laparoscopes, which are inserted into the abdomen through three tiny, quarter-of-an-inch abdominal incisions. All tissue to be removed is then passed through the vagina.

"There are multiple benefits of this surgical approach -- small incisions, less scarring and blood loss, decreased risk of infection and pain, faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay," explained Dr. Coffey. "In fact, the impact is so minimal that most of our patients only lose one teaspoon to one tablespoon of blood during the whole procedure."

"My recovery was so much quicker than I could have imagined," said Goldenberg. "The first week I took it slow, but by the end of the week I was driving my kids around. I was off pain medication after two days and only using ibuprofen," said Goldenberg. "After two weeks, I was pretty much back to my normal schedule. I was a little sore, but no more than from a good workout."

"Some women at my daughter's school heard about my surgery. I'm happy to tell them how great it is. I can't believe how quickly I recovered and how good I feel. More women should know about it."

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