Endometriosis, a condition affecting women's ovaries, bowel, uterus and pelvis, occurs when endometrial tissue - found within the uterus - begins to grow outside the womb. An especially painful condition, endometriosis has no cure and must be managed through a combination of hormone therapies and surgeries. For most women, the symptoms of endometriosis gradually worsen over time, resulting in the need for multiple surgeries ranging from scar tissue removal to a complete hysterectomy. Following are a few of the more common surgical procedures used to treat endometriosis.
Laparoscopy - Minimally-Invasive Option
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally-invasive procedure during which the surgeon makes small incisions in the abdomen so they can insert lights, a camera and small surgical tools. During the procedure, the surgeon removes lesions and scar tissue while cauterizing the surrounding blood vessels. If ovarian cysts are present, the surgeon can also remove these laparoscopically, provided they aren't fused to the bowel or other organs. A full hysterectomy may also be performed in this manner. However, women with severe endometriosis often have too much scar tissue to make it feasible because the surgeon cannot see clearly enough to operate.
Laparotomy - Major Surgery
Similar to the incision used in a cesarean section, a laparotomy surgery opens the abdomen with a large cut across the bikini line. This surgical option is used in women with stage IV or severe endometriosis. During a laparotomy, lesions and scar tissue are removed as are portions of any damaged organs, such as the uterus, ovaries, bowel, bladder and so forth. If necessary, a full hysterectomy is performed to prevent future issues with the disease. This type of surgery is used as a last resort option. Most surgeons try to deal with endometriosis lesions laparoscopically first.
Neurectomy - Pain Relief Procedure
As mentioned, this is an extremely painful condition. Even with surgery, many women still struggle with pain caused by endometriosis. An experimental surgical procedure called a neurectomy is thought to alleviate pain by severing the nerves connected to the uterus. However, this is a controversial procedure and its effectiveness has not been definitively proven.
In addition to hormone therapy, surgery is a common treatment option for women with endometriosis. For many women, several surgeries are necessary to control pain and to keep the condition in check. In cases of severe endometriosis, surgery is often the only option left. However, nothing gets rid of endometriosis completely. Treatment of the disease is ongoing.
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