SURGICAL technique

Laparoscopic specimen retrieval bags in gyn surgery: Expert guidance on selection

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For MIGS procedures, understanding the features of specimen retrieval systems (which vary widely), as well as the pathology’s characteristics, is essential to surgical decision making



The use of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS) has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. MIGS, which includes vaginal hysterectomy and laparoscopic hysterectomy, is safe and has fewer complications and a more rapid recovery period than open abdominal surgery.1,2 In 2005, the role of MIGS was expanded further when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved robot-assisted surgery for the performance of gynecologic procedures.3 As knowledge and experience in the safe performance of MIGS progresses, the rates for MIGS procedures have skyrocketed and continue to grow. Between 2007 and 2010, laparoscopic hysterectomy rates rose from 23.5% to 30.5%, while robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy rates increased from 0.5% to 9.5%, representing 40% of all hysterectomies.4 Due to the benefits of minimally invasive surgery over open abdominal surgery, patient and physician preference for minimally invasive procedures has grown significantly in popularity.1,5

Because incisions are small in minimally invasive surgery, surgeons have been challenged with removing large specimens through incisions that are much smaller than the presenting pathology. One approach is to use a specimen retrieval bag for specimen extraction. Once the dissection is completed, the specimen is placed within the retrieval bag for removal, thus minimizing exposure of the specimen and its contents to the abdominopelvic cavity and incision.

The use of specimen retrieval devices has been advocated to prevent infection, avoid spillage into the peritoneal cavity, and minimize the risk of port-site metastases in cases of potentially cancerous specimens. Devices include affordable and readily available products, such as nonpowdered gloves, and commercially produced bags.6

While the use of specimen containment systems for tissue extraction has been well described in gynecology, the available systems vary widely in construction, size, durability, and shape, potentially leading to confusion and suboptimal bag selection during surgery.7 In this article, we review the most common laparoscopic bags available in the United States, provide an overview of bag characteristics, offer practice guidelines for bag selection, and review bag terminology to highlight important concepts for bag selection.

Controversy spurs change

In April 2014, the FDA warned against the use of power morcellation for specimen removal during minimally invasive surgery, citing a prevalence of 1 in 352 unsuspected uterine sarcomas and 1 in 498 unsuspected uterine leiomyosarcomas among women undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy for presumed benign leiomyoma.8 Since then, the risk of occult uterine sarcomas, including leiomyosarcoma, in women undergoing surgery for benign gynecologic indications has been determined to be much lower.

Nonetheless, the clinical importance of contained specimen removal was clearly highlighted and the role of specimen retrieval bags soared to the forefront. Open power morcellation is no longer commonly practiced, and national societies such as the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL), the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that containment systems be used for safer specimen retrieval during gynecologic surgery.9-11 After the specimen is placed inside the containment system (typically a specimen bag), the surgeon may deliver the bag through a vaginal colpotomy or through a slightly extended laparoscopic incision to remove bulky specimens using cold-cutting extraction techniques.12-15

Continue to: Know the pathology’s characteristics...


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