What is conservative surgery for endometriosis?

30. August 2011

The goal of conservative surgery is to aggressively remove as many endometrial implants and cysts as possible without causing surgical scarring and subsequent adhesions that could hamper future fertility. The two conservative surgical routes used are either laparoscopy or laparotomy. Improving Fertility. Surgery has been shown to improve infertility rates in women with severe endometriosis (stages III and IV). Some physicians recommend conservative surgery even in early-stage endometriosis, because of the progressive nature of the disorder and there is some evidence that it improves fertility. Fertility can often be restored even if the surgery does not remove all the endometrial implants. However, the best fertility rates in such cases occur in the early postoperative period. They decline over time if implants have not been completely eliminated. Subsequent surgeries become less effective in restoring fertility. Reducing Pain and its Recurrence.Studies report pain reduction after surgery in more than 60% of women. Conservative surgery, however, can miss microscopic implants that may continue to cause pain and other symptoms after the procedure. Laparoscopy is now the gold standard treatment for endometriosis. It is usually done under general anesthetic and involves the following:

  • The procedure requires making small incisions at the navel and above the pubic bone.
  • The laparoscope (a hollow tube equipped with camera lenses and a fiber optic light source) is inserted through the incision at the navel (the umbilical incision).
  • A probe is then inserted through the second incision allowing the physician to directly view the outside surface of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
  • One or two additional small incisions can be made on either side of the lower abdomen through these incisions.
  • Surgical instruments or other devices are passed through these accessory incisions to destroy or remove abnormal tissue.
  • Implants can be removed by excision (surgical removal) using a laser or scissors or by destroying the area with lasers or with electricity (or electrocautery).

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