Using the tip of the vessel sealing-cutting device, the space between the anterior and posterior leaves of the broad ligament is developed and opened. A grasping forceps is then used to elevate the anterior leaf of the broad ligament and maintain medial traction. A space parallel and lateral to the cervix and bladder is then created with blunt dissection.
The inferior and medial direction of this dissection is paramount to avoid injury to nearby structures in the pelvic sidewall. Gradually, this will lead to the identification of the vesciovaginal ligament and then the vesicocervical ligament. The development of these spaces allows for the lateral and inferior displacement of the ureter. These maneuvers can mitigate ureter injury by pushing it away from the planes of dissection during the hysterectomy.
Continued traction is maintained by keeping the medial aspect of the anterior leaf of the broad ligament intact. However, the posterior leaf is dissected next, which further lateralizes the ureter. Now, with the uterine vessels fully exposed, they are thoroughly dessicated and ligated. The same procedure is then performed on the contralateral side.11 (See the box below for links to videos that demonstrate the techniques described here.)
Creating the “new” space
In the “new” space that was partially developed during the lateral dissection, blunt dissection is continued, using a sweeping motion from an inferior-to-superior direction, to extend this avascular space. This is performed bilaterally until both sides are connected from the inferior aspect of the vesicouterine adhesions, if present. This thorough dissection creates what we refer to as a “new” space11 (FIGURE 1).
Medially, the new space is bordered by the vesicocervical-vaginal ligament, also known as the bladder pillar. Its distal landmark is the bladder. The remaining intact anterior leaf of the broad ligament lies adjacent to the space anteriorly. The inner aspect of the obliterated umbilical artery neighbors it laterally. Lastly, the vesicovaginal plane’s posterior margin is the parametrium, which is the region where the ureter courses into the bladder. The paravesical space lies lateral to the obliterated umbilical ligament.
Visualization of this new space is made possible in the laparoscopic setting. The pneumoperitoneum allows for better demarcation of the space. Additionally, laparoscopic views of the anatomic spaces differ from those of the laparotomy view because of the magnification and the insufflation of carbon dioxide gas in the spaces.13,14 In our experience, approaching the surgery from the “new” space could significantly decrease the risk of genitourinary injuries in patients with anterior cul-de-sac adhesions (FIGURE 2).
Using the reverse vesicouterine fold dissection technique
Among patients with prior CDs, adhesions often are at the level of or superior to the prior CD scar. By creating the new space, safe dissection from a previously untouched area can be accomplished and injury to the urinary bladder can be avoided.
The reverse vesicouterine fold dissection can be performed from this space. Using the previously described blunt sweeping motion from an inferior-to-superior direction, the vesicovaginal and vesicocervical space is further developed from an unscarred plane. This will separate the lowest portion of the bladder from the vagina, cervix, and uterus in a safe manner. Similar to the technique performed during a vaginal hysterectomy, this reverse motion of developing the bladder flap avoids erroneous and blind dissection through the vesicouterine adhesions (FIGURES 3–5).
Once the bladder adhesions are well delineated and separated from the uterus by the reverse vesicouterine fold dissection technique, it is safe to proceed with complete bladder mobilization. Sharp dissection can be used to dissect the remaining scarred bladder at its most superior attachments. Avoid the use of thermal energy to prevent heat injury to the bladder. Carefully dissect the bladder adhesions from the cervicouterine junction. Additional inferior bladder mobilization should be performed up to 3 cm past the leading edge of the cervicovaginal junction to ensure sufficient vaginal tissue for cuff closure. Note that the bladder pillars occasionally may be trapped inside a CD scar. This surgical technique could make it easier to release the pillars from inside the adhesions and penetrating into the scar.15
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