Endometriosis treated with less invasive technique

May 18, 2011 6:18:08 PM PDT
Another health issue facing millions of women is endometriosis. It's a condition that often leads to infertility. Doctors at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View tackled a particularly challenging case recently and they used minimally invasive, robotic surgery.

Surgeon Camran Nezhat, M.D., pioneered many of the minimally invasive techniques used by doctors worldwide to treat endometriosis. The patient your about to meet realized the severity of her disease within the last couple of years as she and her husband struggled to conceive.

The patient came to El Camino Hospital in Mountain View from Portland, Oregon, hoping doctors here can change her life.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time the procedure is being attempted to be done by minimally invasive robotic surgery," said Nezhat.

It's the most complicated case of endometriosis Nezhat has ever seen. The abnormal growth of the endometrial lining of the uterus has taken over the major blood vessels in the patient's pelvis and abdomen, invading her nervous system and essentially strangling the ureter and causing irreversible damage to one of her kidneys. She's been told by other doctors she will never have children.

"I was basically told nothing there was nothing they could do for me, it was way too dangerous to operate on it, and I could essentially either lose my leg or die on the operating table and no physician, no surgeon would ever touch it," said Katherine Lane.

But a second opinion led Lane to Nezhat and the possibility of a solution to the endometriosis and the pain she was struggling to control.

"I was confident I can deal with the endometriosis wherever it is," said Nezhat.

Nezhat partnered with an urologist and cardiovascular surgeon. Together the team used both minimally invasive laparoscopy and robotic surgery to remove the endometriosis, scar tissue and even the damaged kidney. Remarkably, the day after the eight-hour surgery Katherine was up walking and off the oxycodone and morphine she'd had to rely on for more than a year.

When asked if it felt like a whole new beginning, Lane said, "Yeah, it is. I feel like I've been given a second chance."

Lane's case, while extreme, is a reminder to all women struggling with infertility.

"If they're trying to get pregnant and their husband is fine and all the other tests come fine and they say everything is okay and they are not getting pregnant, it is endometriosis until proven otherwise," said Nezhat.

As Lane heads home to Portland, she and her husband's focus shifts from saving her life to creating a new one.

"My parents are just excited for grandkids now, so hopefully that will come soon," said Lane.

In fact, Lane is now pregnant with a baby due in August.

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