Low-Impact Surgery May Preserve Fertility for Endometriosis Patients

Endometriosis is a painful condition where abnormal tissue grows on the outside of a woman’s reproductive organs; often causing monthly cramping and nausea.

In severe cases, it can lead to infertility. Now, new surgical tools are allowing doctors to get patients back on their feet faster than ever before.

Every time Mallory Harrison holds the warrior pose, she feels stronger than ever.

“I need yoga to just kind of get my stress levels down,” Harrison said.

But for many months, these moves were impossible to perform.

“I would start to cancel plans because I was just in so much pain I just didn’t want to get out of bed because I’d have my heating pad in bed, and at least then I could just lay there and try to deal with it,” she said.

Harrison had pain from endometriosis that didn’t respond to treatment. She wanted to avoid ugly scars, so surgery wasn’t an option until Harrison met gynecologic surgeon Kevin Audlin.

Audlin uses new laparoscopic tools that are smaller than ever, just three millimeters in size instead of the standard five millimeters ---in what’s being called low-impact surgery.

“Low impact, because not only are we using three-milliliter instruments, but we are using low intra-abdominal pressure with gas,” Audlin, Endometriosis Care, Mercy Medical Center Baltimore explained.

Meaning a patient’s abdomen wouldn’t have to be fully inflated for surgeons to maneuver. Using three tiny incisions the size of sesame seeds, Audlin inserts these tools to remove the extra tissue.

“With these, I am just putting a little dab of glue, there is not even a need for a suture,” said Audlin.

Harrison’s abdomen looks virtually untouched. She’s pain-free and relieved that her fertility has been preserved.

“I still wanted that option to be open to me. I didn’t want to have to let the endometriosis decide whether or not I could have kids,” Harrison said.

Giving her even more flexibility to manage her health as she gets older. Surgeons are also using this type of low-impact procedure for hysterectomy and ovarian cysts, among other things.

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