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Conditions Treated with Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery

At the University of Chicago Medicine, our expert gynecologic surgeons can offer less invasive, effective treatment options for a range of conditions, including:

Abnormal or Heavy Periods

Common causes of abnormal bleeding include fibroids and polyps. Treatment for this problem will depend on the cause, as well as a woman's age and her plans for future pregnancies. Medication such as birth control pills or IUDs may help some women. Others may find relief from radiologic, radiofrequency and uterine lining procedures, or the removal of fibroids and polyps. Our specialists will identify the cause of the abnormal bleeding, discuss all the treatment options and find the best option for each individual patient.

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Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the muscle walls of the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. Fibroids may occur individually or as a cluster. They often increase in size and frequency with age, but may shrink slightly after menopause. When uterine fibroids cause pain, heavy bleeding or infertility, surgery is frequently the best option. The following minimally invasive approaches offer alternatives to hysterectomy:

When these alternatives are not recommended, minimally invasive hysterectomy may be an option for some women with uterine fibroids.

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Endometriosis occurs when tissue normally found in a woman’s uterus grows outside of the uterus. It is a condition that affects approximately 10 percent of reproductive-age women and can cause many symptoms. Most commonly, women have pain in the lower belly and pelvic area that can occur before or during monthly periods, when urinating or having a bowel movement, and during or after sex. Endometriosis can also cause difficulty in getting pregnant, as well as the development of cysts on the ovaries called endometriomas. Symptoms tend to worsen with time and can significantly affect a woman’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Initially, medical therapy is used to relieve pain and symptoms. Often, if medication does not work, laparoscopic and robotic procedures to remove the cysts or pelvic organs can alleviate symptoms.

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Thirty to 40 percent of American women admit to having problems with bladder control, or urinary leakage. Many of these women delay getting help for their problem for years due to feeling embarrassed about their condition. Surgery can significantly improve urinary incontinence that does not respond to initial therapies such as medication, biofeedback or Botox injections. Using laparoscopic surgical approaches, our urogynecologists can reposition or secure the bladder to prevent leaking of urine with coughing, exercise, or laughing.  » Learn more about treatment options for urinary incontinence.

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Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is discomfort that occurs in the lower abdomen below the belly button. More common in women than in men, pelvic pain can be a sign of other health problems, some of which may be serious. To diagnose and treat the various causes of pelvic pain, our surgeons use minimally invasive approaches such as:

  • Laparoscopy to remove pelvic adhesions (scar tissue) and other abnormal tissue, such as endometriosis, fibroids and cysts
  • Laparoscopic uterosacral nerve ablation (LUNA), which involves cutting some of the nerves for the uterus that may be responsible for pelvic pain

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University of Chicago Medicine gynecologic oncologists are skilled in minimally invasive approaches for women with gynecologic cancers, such as cervical, endometrial, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancers. Some gynecologic cancers may be treated with robotic surgery. Laparascopic surgery can be used to remove tumors, and when necessary, lymph nodes. Pain-relieving procedures such as laparascopic uterosacral nerve ablation involve cutting some of the nerves on the uterus that may be responsible for cancer pain. Minimally invasive cancer surgery allows patients to recover more quickly and to begin their path to wellness. » Learn more about our care services for gynecologic cancers.

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Our surgeons use the latest laparoscopic and hysteroscopic techniques to diagnose and treat conditions that affect fertility, including endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes and malformations of the uterus. Our surgeons work with fertility specialists to give women the best possible chance for a healthy pregnancy. » Learn more about reproductive endocrinology and infertility services.

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Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets within or on the surface of an ovary. They can almost always be surgically treated using laparoscopic approaches without removing the ovary. Using minimally invasive surgical techniques, our surgeons remove ovarian cysts with minimal recovery time and without a large incision.

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Uterine polyps are growths attached to the inner wall of the uterus that extend into the uterine cavity. Overgrowth of cells in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) leads to the formation of uterine polyps, also known as endometrial polyps. These polyps are usually noncancerous although some can be cancerous or precancerous. Polyps may occur in premenopausal or postmenopausal women. Symptoms may include infertility, heavy or painful periods, and irregular vaginal bleeding before or after menopause. Uterine polyps can be removed on an outpatient basis, using hysteroscopy.

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Uterine Adhesions

Uterine adhesions are a condition in which scar tissue develops within the uterine cavity. They may cause no symptoms, or they may be linked to problems such as infertility, menstrual cycle problems, monthly pelvic pain or recurrent miscarriage. Uterine adhesions may be removed through hysteroscopy.

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Uterine Septum

A uterine septum is a malformation in which the uterine cavity is separated into two parts by a wall of tissue. This may eventually result in menstrual problems, infertility or recurrent miscarriage. A uterine septum can be removed through hysteroscopy.

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