April 18th, 2003

Contact:             Jennifer Kurczek
            Community Relations

            (920)361-5481 or jkurczek@partnershealth.org




Hysterectomy not the only option for treating gynecologic problems


With more than 500,000 procedures performed each year, more women are having hysterectomies in the United States than anywhere else in the industrial world.


With such a large number of women having hysterectomies, which involves surgical removal of the uterus, one may question if it is the only option for resolving female health issues. According to Dr. Patrick Bruno, Board Certified Gynecologist for Community Health Network (CHN), hysterectomy is not always the answer.


“Hysterectomy was once the only treatment for certain non-cancerous conditions that affected a woman’s quality of life,” he said. “For treating potentially life-threatening conditions, such as invasive cancers, hysterectomy may be medically necessary. But for other less serious, yet extremely painful conditions, other options do exist. “


Exploring other options

Alternative treatments, which require less recovery time than a hysterectomy, can successfully treat conditions such as fibroid tumors, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, precancerous cells, uterine prolapse and abnormal bleeding. Some of the specific methods of treatment may include:

·        Non-hormonal Medications, such as pain relieving analgesics;

·        Hormonal Medications, which may include hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives;

·        Non-invasive Surgeries, including nerve blocks, dilatation and curettage, ablation, (elimination of the uterine lining), myomectomy (removal of fibroids) which can be done by hysteroscopy or laparoscopy. These surgical methods involve small incision areas and are often less painful than a hysterectomy – leading to a faster recovery for the patient.


During a hysterectomy, the uterus may be removed through a surgical incision made either inside the vagina or in the abdomen. When it is performed through the abdomen, the surgeon is able to see the pelvic organs easily and has more room to maneuver. This approach requires a longer stay in the hospital, leaves a visible scar from the incision and may lead to greater discomfort.


A vaginal hysterectomy leaves no scar and may require one to two days hospitalization. Because this approach provides less room for the surgeon to maneuver, a laparoscope may be used to examine the inside of the pelvis. This variation is called a laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy.


Should I or shouldn’t I?

According to the American College of Surgeons, hysterectomy is an over-utilized, elective procedure – meaning that other reasonable treatment methods that preserve the uterus and childbearing capacity may be effective.


Women contemplating whether or not to have a hysterectomy should consider the severity of their problems and their desire to have children in the future, asking themselves questions such as:

·        Do I want to become pregnant in the future?

·        How do I feel about not having a uterus?

·        What is my husband’s or partner’s attitude toward this operation?


Further, questions that women should address with their surgeons include:

·        What will happen if I don’t have a hysterectomy?

·        What are the risks of having a hysterectomy in my particular case?

·        Is a hysterectomy medically necessary or recommended to relieve my particular symptoms?

·        Is my condition likely to improve on its own, stay the same or get worse?


“Having a hysterectomy is a serious decision because it may have long term effects on a woman’s health,” Dr. Bruno said. “That’s why it’s important for a woman to explore any reasonable alternatives that may exist to treat her individual problem and make a decision that she feels most comfortable with.”


With offices in Berlin, Ripon and Wild Rose, CHN Women's Medical Services provides an array of specialized female health services, including routine examinations; reproductive health; urogynecology; gynecological surgeries including laparoscopic/endoscopic procedures; hormone replacement therapy; and bone densitometry scanning for osteoporosis.


Appointments with Dr. Patrick Bruno, CHN Women’s Medical Services, can be scheduled by calling the Berlin office at (920)361-5737 or 1-800-236-1283 ext. 5737.