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Surgical first for Mississippi

Just a few years ago, it wasn’t conceivable that major surgeries could be performed without a single visible incision scar.

Times have changed.

Last November, surgeons at St. Dominic Hospital performed what is believed to be the first total laparoscopic hysterectomy procedure in the State of Mississippi.  The procedure, termed a “robotic-assisted single port,” was performed by John Baten, an obstetrician/gynecologist associated with the hospital and Women’s Health Associates of Jackson.

Utilizing the patient’s belly button as the single entry point, Baten carried out the procedure using robotic assistance.  Following surgery, the woman had no visible scar due to a tiny incision virtually hidden within her belly button.  According to Baten, the patient returned home the following day and had resumed her normal activities within seven days, a significant improvement from outcomes experienced with traditional hysterectomy.

Trace Swartzfager, vice president of professional services for St. Dominic Hospital, calls the milestone event a surgical breakthrough for Mississippi patients.

“We are committed to investing in innovative techniques and procedures such as these which allow quicker recovery time and improve convenience for patients,” Baten said.  “By investing in technology, St. Dominic’s will continue to be the destination of choice for premier healthcare services.”

The nation’s first laparoscopic hysterectomy was performed in 2007 by Kate O’Hanlan, a San Francisco-based gynecologic oncologist.

About 70 percent of American women who have hysterectomies have the traditional, invasive abdominal surgery, even though minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery could be a viable option for most of them, says Kevin Stepp, a gynecological surgeon with Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s pioneers in robotic-assisted procedures.

“There are a lot of people in this country who believe that there are way too many open-incision abdominal hysterectomies performed,” he said. Stepp, who is a strong proponent of the single entry procedure, performs the surgery in about 95 percent of his patients with noncancerous conditions.

Patients are delighted with the results, he said.

“One of my patients who is in her 60s recently agreed to have the single port procedure and she was incredulous,” Stepp said. “She had a C-section 30 years ago and told me she couldn’t stand for six weeks. With the single port, she was only in the hospital one day and reported no pain.”

Baten, one of only a handful of surgeons in the U.S. trained to perform the procedure, believes St. Dominic is on the forefront of the movement towards surgery without scars.

“With the introduction of the single port technique, we are now able to address the procedure through a single entry point,” he said. “This incorporates the clinical benefits of a total laparoscopic procedure with the advantages of improved patient comfort and cosmetic results.”

Since the time of his first single port procedure at St. Dominic Hospital, Baten has used the new technology on subsequent patients. He says all are recovering well and are pleased with their experience, claiming no post-operative pain.

“This approach makes minimally invasive surgery even less invasive and is a significant step forward toward scar-less procedures,” he said, adding that the risk of post-surgical complications appear lower as well. “The absence of blood vessels and muscles around the naval area virtually eliminates the risk of certain complications that can occur with conventionally minimally invasive surgery.”

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