It is estimated that nearly 50% of all women between the ages of 50 and 79 have some form of pelvic organ prolapse - a medical condition that occurs when the normal support of the vagina is lost, resulting in “sagging” or dropping of the bladder, urethra, cervix and rectum. As the prolapse of the vagina and uterus progresses, women can feel bulging tissue protruding through the opening of the vagina.
“Prolapse is not life threatening but it can be uncomfortable and sometimes makes it hard for women to empty their bladders normally or even exercise,” said urogynecologist, Dr. Nahla Merhi, who is Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Silver Cross Hospital.
Some women are born with weaker tissues and are therefore at risk to develop prolapse. Others encounter a loss of pelvic support when a part of their pelvic floor is injured during vaginal delivery, surgery, pelvic radiation or back and pelvic fractures during falls or motor vehicle accidents. Also, hysterectomy and other procedures done to treat pelvic organ prolapse are associated with future development of prolapse. Other conditions that promote prolapse include: obesity, constipation and chronic straining, smoking, chronic coughing and heavy lifting.
There are many treatment options available. For most women, the treatment they choose depends on how much they are bothered by their symptoms. Many conservative treatment options are available including pelvic floor rehabilitation. Finally, some women are bothered by their pelvic organ prolapse enough to consider surgery.
“Only you and your doctor can determine what treatment option is best for you. But if surgery is your best option, women should consider da Vinci robotic surgery,” said Dr. Merhi. “da Vinci surgery offers women many potential benefits over traditional open surgery, including: less blood loss, shorter hospital stay, and low rate of complications,” said Dr. Merhi. “The benefits are remarkable!”
How does Robotic Surgery Work?
Controlled by a surgeon from a console, the innovative da Vinci robot is used to make 8mm (`1/3 inch) to 12 mm (~ 1/2 inch) incisions and then long, delicate instruments are inserted into the patient that enable specially trained physicians to perform the surgery.
Interestingly, misconceptions still exist that the robot is actually performing the surgery all by itself. “The important aspect to understand is that the da Vinci robotic system cannot be programmed nor can it make decisions by itself,” said Dr. Nahla Merhi. “The da Vinci System can only operate with direct input from the surgeon.”
The enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control of the da Vinci robot allows physicians to perform an excellent surgery even for women with complex cases.
Free Lecture: Girl Talk: Pelvic Disorders
Join Dr. Nahla Merhi and physical therapists with The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Silver Cross on Wednesday, Feb. 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to learn why vaginal prolapse and incontinence is more common than you might think. At this special Girl Talk: Pelvic Disorders, attendees will hear expert advice about pelvic floor disorder signs, symptoms, and treatment options including robotic surgery with one tiny incision through the belly button. Get answers to the questions you have been wondering about but never asked. Register to attend this free Girl Talk: Pelvic Disorders program at online or by calling 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).