Every year, 600,000 women in the United States undergo a hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus. The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists estimates that up to 40% of those cases are due to severe bleeding, but hysterectomy isn't the only option.
A new alternative to hysterectomy is hysteroscopy, which uses a telescope-like instrument. It's actually a flexible scope that allows doctors to find problems inside the uterus. A similar scope fixes them.
"That allows us to see within the cavity, and once you have your diagnostics, once you know exactly what's causing the bleeding, then in a separate setting, you would put the patient under anesthesia and do the operation," says Dr. Fermin Barrueto, chief of endoscopy and pelvic reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
So, what's the benefit of a hysteroscopy? Consider Tammy Green-Reid, who has a fibroid tumor. Hysteroscopy can remove the tumor without damaging the reproductive system. Dr. Barrueto says, "The patient goes home the same day and incorporates to her normal life within the next 48 hours-72 hours, as opposed to hysterectomy that needs anywhere from four to six weeks."
Tammy Green-Reid says, "If I didn't know that I was in the hospital, I wouldn't have known I had anything done. I was very pleased. I haven't had any bleeding since."
The bottom line, for many women today, removing the uterus doesn't have to be the only option. So, if you're avoiding an appointment with your gynecologist because you're afraid a hysterectomy will be recommended, you may find there are actually several options available today to consider as an alternative to major surgery.