Melissa Vella says her symptoms caused by uterine fibroids became so bad last fall that she constantly felt as if she were several months pregnant.
“I was always tired, I had to urinate frequently, and even my abdomen was sticking out like I was pregnant,” says Melissa, a 46-year-old mother of three from Jackson. “I was extremely uncomfortable most of the time, and it was impacting my daily life.”
After consulting with Steven Goldstein, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN on staff at CentraState Medical Center, Melissa decided to put an end to her recurrent, fibroid-related symptoms by undergoing a minimally invasive procedure: robotic hysterectomy with the da Vinci® Surgical System.
A Common Problem
Roughly half of women develop fibroids—noncancerous tumors within the wall of the uterus— at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most, however, never experience any symptoms and treatment is only necessary to relieve symptoms such as pelvic pressure, pain, and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Melissa’s fibroids were detected more than a decade ago and caused periodic symptoms. Dr. Goldstein monitored her condition over the years until fibroids had caused her uterus to grow uncomfortably large—more than a pound in weight and about the size of a small melon.
For women like Melissa who no longer want to have children, removal of the uterus is the definitive treatment for fibroids. Robotic hysterectomy takes advantage of tiny instruments and a 3D high-definition vision system to allow the uterus to be removed through small incisions, which is a much less invasive approach than traditional surgery.
“Because of the size of her uterus, and her history of cesarean section deliveries, this would have been a challenging procedure to perform with traditional minimally invasive techniques,” Dr. Goldstein says. “The robotic platform was really valuable here; otherwise, she might have needed a surgery with a large incision and a longer recovery.”
A Speedy Recovery
Melissa went home the morning after her procedure and required little pain medication. Within a month, she was back to all normal activities, including light exercise. She says surgery was a difficult choice, but she felt comforted by Dr. Goldstein and the robotic surgical approach, which left her with only minimal scarring.