My hysterectomy approach
I have utilized one of the most recent developments in minilaparoscopy instrumentation – the MiniLap percutaneous surgical system (Teleflex) – to develop a mini technique for hysterectomy I’ve trademarked as the Cosmetic Hysterectomy. The percutaneous system has an outer diameter of 2.3 mm, integrated needle tips that facilitate insertion without a trocar, and a selection of integrated graspers (e.g., a miniature clutch or alligator) that open up to 12.5 mm and can be advanced and retracted through the cannula. The graspers can be locked onto the tissue, and the system itself can be stabilized extracorporeally so that it can be hands free.
For the hysterectomy, I make two 5-mm vertical incisions within the umbilicus – one for a nonbladed 5-mm trocar at 12 o’clock and the other for a second nonbladed 5-mm trocar at 6 o’clock, penetrating the fascia. The trocars house a 30-degree extra-long laparoscope with camera attached, and an advanced bipolar electrosurgery device.
The minilaparoscopic cannula is inserted in the lower-abdominal area through a single 1-mm stab incision, and one or two instruments can be placed as needed. Tissues can be removed vaginally once dissection is completed, and the vaginal cuff can be closed laparoscopically or vaginally. The edges of the minilaparoscopic cannula are approximated together and held with surgical glue or a sterile skin-closure strip. There is no need to close the fascia.4
The percutaneous system opens new windows for minimally invasive surgery. It can be moved and used in several locations throughout a surgical procedure such that we can achieve more patient-specific “incisional mapping,” as I’m now calling it, rather than uniformly utilizing standard trocar placement sites.
Even without use of this particular innovation, the use of smaller instruments is proving both feasible and advantageous. A study that randomized 75 women scheduled for a hysterectomy to traditional laparoscopy (with a 5- to 10-mm port size) or minilaparoscopy (with a 3-mm port size) found no statistically significant differences in blood loss, hemoglobin drop, pain scores, or analgesic use. The authors concluded that the smaller port sizes did not affect the ability to perform the procedure. Moreover, they noted, the minilaparoscopy group had consistently smaller scars and better cosmesis.5
Another retrospective study of perioperative outcomes with standard laparoscopic, minilaparoscopic, and laparoendoscopic single-site hysterectomy found that postoperative pain control and the need for analgesic medication was significantly less with minilaparoscopy and laparoendoscopic single-site (LESS) hysterectomy, compared with traditional laparoscopy. Pain and medication in patients undergoing minilaparoscopy was reduced by more than 50%, compared with the traditional laparoscopy group, which suggests less operative trauma.6
In my practice, postoperative analgesia is simply intranasal ketorolac tromethamine (Sprix) and/or long-acting tramadol (Conzip); opioids have been eliminated in all minilaparoscopic procedures. We have had no complications, including no trocar-site bleeding, nerve entrapments, trocar-site herniations, or infections. Not every patient is a candidate for consideration of a minilaparoscopic hysterectomy, of course. The patient who has extensive adhesions from multiple previous surgeries or a large uterus with fibroids, for instance, should be treated with traditional laparoscopy regardless of her concerns regarding cosmesis.
No two surgeons are alike; each has his/her own ideas, skill sets, and approaches. Minilaparoscopy may not be for everyone, but given the number of durable miniature instruments now available, it’s an approach to consider integrating into a variety of gynecologic procedures.
For a right salpingo-oophorectomy, for instance, a 3-mm trocar placed at 12 o’clock through the umbilicus can accommodate a 3-mm scope with a high-definition camera, and an 11-mm trocar placed at 6 o’clock can house an energy device. In the right and left lower quadrants, two additional 3-mm trocars can be placed – one to accommodate a grasping instrument and the other to house the scope after the fallopian tube has been transected. A specimen bag can be passed through the 11-mm trocar in the umbilicus for removal of the ovary and tube. With the umbilicus hiding the largest of scars, the procedure is less invasive with better cosmetic results.