Millions of women in the United States suffer from chronic, often debilitating pain and discomfort as a result of a number of gynecological conditions. Pelvic pain, abnormal or heavy bleeding caused by ovarian cysts, fibroid tumors, or endometriosis can stop a woman in her tracks and interfere with every aspect of her life. When medication and other non-invasive means do not work to manage symptoms, women often turn to surgery.
The women in our cover photo and many other Suburban Hospital patients are finding relief from chronic gynecological conditions through minimally invasive surgical techniques, including robotic technology. Minimally invasive gynecological surgery uses specialized instruments inserted into the body through the vagina, belly button or small incisions in the abdomen of an inch or less. These less- invasive approaches can be used for a number of procedures that once required major surgery, such as hysterectomy (removal of uterus) or myomectomy (removal of uterine fibroids), removal of lymph nodes for evaluation, and others. The advantages are minimal blood loss, lower risk of infection, less scarring and the biggest advantage for busy women: a quicker recovery and less time away from work and family responsibilities.
Dr. Carolynn Young, new Section Chief of Gynecology at Suburban Hospital, and in private practice in Rockville, Maryland, says she gave up obstetrics as part of her practice so she could focus solely on gynecology and minimally invasive surgeries. Dr. Young designs a treatment plan to meet the specific needs of each patient. She explains that some of the minimally invasive procedures can be performed vaginally and may not require an external incision at all. However, for other more complex cases, a combination of vaginal, laparoscopic or robotics is most effective. Typically, these procedures require an overnight stay in the hospital.
Dr. Young, trained and credentialed to perform surgeries at Suburban Hospital using the da Vinci S™ robotic system, recently performed surgery on Laura Tierney of Gaithersburg. Tierney’s job as a fingerprint examiner requires her to be alert and without distraction. “I am looking through a magnifying glass comparing small details from one set of prints to another to determine if they match,” she says. “I was in such pain that it was becoming difficult to perform my job and I had to do something about it.” Tierney, who lifts weights and works out regularly, tried without success to treat her symptoms non-surgically. She was back to work and easing into her fitness regimen just three weeks after surgery.