Letters To The Editor

Laparoscopic suturing is an option

Deirdre Lum, MD (Society of Gynecologic Surgeons)


Laparoscopic suturing is an option

Dr. Lum presented a nicely produced video demonstrating various strategies aimed at facilitating total laparoscopic hysterectomy (TLH) of the very large uterus. Her patient’s evaluation included magnetic resonance imaging. In the video, she demonstrates a variety of interventions, including the use of a preoperative gonadotropin–releasing hormone (GNRH) agonist and immediate perioperative radial artery–uterine artery embolization. Intraoperative techniques include use of ureteral stents and securing the uterine arteries at their origins.

Clearly, TLH of a huge uterus is a technical challenge. However, I’d like to suggest that a relatively basic and important skill would greatly assist in such procedures and likely obviate the need for a GNRH agonist and/or uterine artery embolization. The vessel-sealing devices shown in the video are generally not capable of sealing such large vessels adequately, and this is what leads to the massive hemorrhaging that often occurs.

Laparoscopic suturing with extracorporeal knot tying can be used effectively to control the extremely large vessels associated with a huge uterus. The judicious placement of sutures can completely control such vessels and prevent bleeding from both proximal and distal ends when 2 sutures are placed and the vessels are transected between the stitches. Many laparoscopic surgeons have come to rely on bipolar energy or ultrasonic devices to coagulate vessels. But when dealing with huge vessels, a return to basics using laparoscopic suturing will greatly benefit the patient and the surgeon by reducing blood loss and operative time.

David L. Zisow, MD
Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Lum responds

I thank Dr. Zisow for his thoughtful comments. I agree that laparoscopic suturing is an essential skill that can be utilized to suture ligate vessels. If we consider the basics of an open hysterectomy, the uterine artery is clamped first, then suture ligated. When approaching a very large vessel during TLH, I would be concerned that a simple suture around a large vessel might tear through and cause more bleeding. To mitigate this risk, the vessel can be clamped with a grasper first, similar to the approach in an open hysterectomy. However, once a vessel is compressed, a sealing device can usually work just as well as a suture. It becomes a matter of preference and cost.

During hysterectomy of a very large uterus, a big challenge is managing bleeding of the uterus itself during manipulation from above. Bleeding from the vascular sinuses of the myometrium can be brisk and obscure visualization, potentially leading to laparotomy conversion. A common misconception is that uterine artery embolization is equivalent to suturing the uterine arteries. In actuality, the goal of a uterine artery embolization is to embolize the distal branches of the uterine arteries, which can help with any potential bleeding from the uterus itself during hysterectomy.

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