Surgical Techniques

The posterior colpotomy: An alternative approach to tissue extraction

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Even large myomas can be removed transvaginally when the technique is right



CASE: Patient opts for myomectomy
A 41-year-old woman, G0, with symptomatic myomas wishes to preserve her reproductive organs rather than undergo hysterectomy. She chooses laparoscopic myomectomy.

Preoperative imaging with transvaginal ultrasound reveals a 4-cm posterior pedunculated myoma and a 5-cm fundal intramural myoma. Preoperative videohysteroscopy reveals external compression of the anterior intramural myoma without intracavitary extension. Both tubal ostia appear normal.

During a multipuncture technique with a 5-mm laparoscope and 5-mm accessory ports,1 the abdomen and pelvis are evaluated. The 4-cm pedunculated myoma is visualized posteriorly and to the left of midline. The 5-cm intramural myoma enlarges the contour of the uterine fundus.

How would you proceed?

With intracorporeal electromechanical “power” morcellation under scrutiny due to the potential dissemination of benign and malignant tissue, many surgeons are seeking alternatives that will allow them to continue offering minimally invasive surgical options.2–4

Intracorporeal power morcellation is used during minimally invasive gynecologic procedures, including total hysterectomy, supracervical hysterectomy, and myomectomy. Two current alternatives—­laparoscopic-assisted minilaparotomy and tissue extraction through a posterior colpotomy—show promise in minimizing the risks of tissue dissemination.5–7 Regardless of the route selected for tissue extraction, the use of endoscopic specimen bags and surgical retractors may ease tissue removal and limit dissemination.

In this article, we describe contained transvaginal tissue extraction through a posterior colpotomy in the setting of laparoscopic myomectomy, describing an actual case. A video of our technique is available at

Technique, tips, and tricks
Posterior colpotomy allows the removal of fibroids during laparoscopic myomectomy without the need to enlarge the abdominal incisions and without the use of intracorporeal power morcellation. Instead, tissue is extracted transvaginally. The incision is hidden in a natural orifice, the vagina.

Equipment consists of a:

  • 5-mm laparoscope and 5-mm accessory ports
  • Figure 1: Equipment

    The AirSeal Access Port (Top) and LapSac specimen-retrieval bag (Bottom).
  • LapSac specimen-retrieval bag (Cook Medical; various sizes available)
  • AirSeal Access Port (SurgiQuest), 12 mm in diameter and 150 mm in length (FIGURE 1).

Preparatory steps Place a manipulator in the uterus and elevate it anteriorly. Position the AirSeal Access Port transvaginally, with the sharp tip below the cervix in the posterior fornix. Take care not to injure the rectum.

Confirm proper placement of the Access Port and visualize the posterior cul-de-sac laparoscopically.

Insert the 12-mm Access Port for pneumoperitoneum and the introduction and removal of suture, curved needles, and the specimen-retrieval bag.

The Access Port also provides excellent smoke evacuation and optimal visualization during the myomectomy. It is a new-concept laparoscopic port without any mechanical seal. The technology assists in maintaining pneumoperitoneum at a constant pressure despite the size of the opening.

Amputating the myomas
Choose a specimen-retrieval bag just slightly larger than the largest myoma. In this case, the larger of the two myomas is approximately 5 cm. Therefore, a 5 × 8 cm LapSac is appropriate. We roll up the LapSac and place it through the Access Port using smooth forceps, situating the bag in the abdomen prior to the start of the myomectomy, with the opening toward the uterus, so that the myomas can be collected as they are removed (FIGURE 2).

We then inject dilute vasopressin (one 20-unit ampule in 60 cc normal saline) near the base of the pedunculated myoma stalk and use monopolar electrosurgery to amputate the myoma. We place the myoma in the specimen-retrieval bag (FIGURE 3).

Next, we inject dilute vasopressin into the serosa overlying the intramural myoma and use electrosurgery to incise the serosa and myometrium. We enucleate the second myoma and place it in the bag. We then close the uterine incision using a combination of interrupted Vicryl and running V-Loc sutures on a curved CT-2 needle introduced through the Access Port (FIGURE 4).

Figure 2: Introduce the bag

Introduce the LapSac through the Access Port.
Figure 3: Contain the specimen
Once it is amputated, place the myoma into the LapSac.
Figure 4: Close the uterine incision

In preparation for closure, insert a curved CT-2 needle and suture material through the Access Port.
Figure 5: Cinch the sac
Cinch the LapSac prior to transvaginal removal.

Tissue extraction
We place a blunt-tipped grasper transvaginally through the 12-mm Access Port to retrieve the blue polypropylene drawstring of the specimen bag (FIGURE 5). We then deactivate the Access Port and AirSeal system.

The bag containing the myomas is too large to fit through the port and the posterior colpotomy, so it is necessary to remove the Access Port from the vagina without losing the drawstrings of the specimen bag (FIGURE 6).

We vaginally exteriorize the opening of the bag (FIGURE 7), reorient the pedunculated myoma, which is oblong in shape, using forceps, and remove it without morcellation.

Next Article:

Mastering the uterine manipulator: Basics and beyond

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