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Surgical Treatment Options continued...

The vaginal approach, laparoscopy, and robot-assisted laparoscopy are minimally invasive procedures or MIPs. MIPs offer certain benefits over the more traditional open surgery approach. In general, a MIP allows for faster recovery, shorter hospital stays, and less pain and scarring than does an open abdominal surgery.

One recent study of hysterectomies showed a higher rate of postoperative infection in patients with open abdominal surgery. The average length of time in the hospital for patients undergoing a MIP ranged from 1.6 days to 2.2 days, compared to 3.7 days for abdominal hysterectomies. With a MIP, women are generally able to resume their normal activity within a much shorter period of time than they are after an open surgery. And the costs associated with a MIP are considerably lower than the costs associated with open surgery. (This depends on the instruments used and the time spent in the operating room. Robotic procedures are much more expensive.) There is also less risk of incisional hernias with a MIP.

Not every woman is a good candidate for a minimally invasive procedure. The presence of scar tissue from previous surgeries, obesity, and health status can all affect whether or not a MIP is advisable. You should talk with your doctor about whether you might be a candidate for a MIP.

Uterine artery embolization (UAE): A procedure that cuts off blood flow to a uterine fibroid, causing it to shrink. UAE is not a surgical procedure. It is a minimally invasive procedure during which a thin tube -- catheter -- is inserted into an artery in the groin and guided using X-ray cameras to arteries that feed the uterus. Once it's there, the doctor injects very small particles through the tube. The particles clog the blood vessels that feed the fibroid tumor. That causes them to shrink over time and alleviate symptoms.

Because it is a minimally invasive procedure, some women go home the same day. Most often, an overnight stay in the hospital is required. The procedure can cause cramping and pelvic pain that may last a few days. But typically, women can return to work and their normal activities after about one week. Not all women are candidates for this procedure.  Talk to your doctor about your best options.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on August 11, 2014
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