As ladies across the country observe May as National Women’s Health Month, Memorial Health System of East Texas is celebrating medical advancements that improve the lives and health of local women. Two procedures exclusively performed at Memorial Health System of East Texas give women access to breast MRI screening and biopsies and robotic hysterectomy. This new technology provides women confidence in treatment options and the ability to return to their normal routine in a shorter amount of time.
Marie Chandler knows all too well the challenges leading up to a hysterectomy and the benefits afterward. She experienced cramping pains on and off for several months. Dr. Kaywin Carter, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, diagnosed her with fibroid cysts on her uterus. At the time the cysts were small. Dr. Carter suggested she wait to see if any changes occurred. About a year later, the pain was so severe Chandler could hardly walk.
“Normally, I have a high pain tolerance and am very active. With this pain, I couldn’t do anything but sit on the couch. Dr. Carter suggested a robotic hysterectomy,” stated Chandler. “The surgery was easier than having a baby. After the procedure, I only took Tylenol for pain. I even went home the same day!”
Robotic hysterectomies are performed with a surgical system that gives the physician better visualization and access to the surgery site. “While sitting at the robotic console, I can better visualize the pelvis and abdomen. It gives me the ability to magnify the area to microscopic levels. Also, the instruments supply more mobility than the hands by turning 360 degrees,” said Dr. Carter. “Most patients stay only one night in the hospital and can do what they feel like with the recommendation to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for two weeks.”
Robotic hysterectomy patients recover faster with four to five small abdominal openings as opposed to one large incision made in traditional hysterectomies. Compared with regular laparoscopic procedures, patients generally feel less post operative discomfort after a robotic procedure.
“I believe there is no reason to remain in pain and continue suffering. If you work, it is worth it to take a couple of weeks off for a robotic hysterectomy. You are back on your feet so easily,” stated Chandler. “I feel so much better, like a new person!”
Dr. Carter has performed over 300 robotic hysterectomies at Memorial. She is one of several Lufkin gynecologists performing hysterectomies using the da Vinci Robotic System. Drs. Jerry Johnson, Mike Arnold and Carolyn Moyers have each added this procedure to their impressive list of services. Dr. Carter began using the Robot two years ago and today is a hysterectomy proctor for the da Vinci High Definition Robotic Surgical System. That means she has performed enough cases and received certification to teach other physicians how to use the robotic system to perform hysterectomies.
Women not only have advanced medical treatments for hysterectomy but also breast cancer screening and diagnosis. Memorial’s newest technology battles the disease with confidence. Recently installing the Sentinelle Vanguard® breast MRI coil, this advanced system helps physicians to confidently detect, diagnose and accurately perform biopsies for breast cancer patients.
According to Christopher Sherman, M.D., Ph.D., board certified Radiologist at Memorial, the MRI capability is a powerful tool that evaluates the extent of disease in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. Additionally, this technology allows screening of patients who are at high risk of developing breast cancer over their lifetimes.
As the only health care professionals in Deep East Texas to perform breast biopsy using MRI technology, Memorial radiologists have 360-degree independent access to each breast. This allows for biopsy access with minimum needle travel required, which reduces breast trauma. With features not available in traditional breast MRI coils, Sentinelle’s next generation system optimizes imaging and access and ultimately, patient care and comfort.
Dr. Sherman adds, “Although mammography continues to be the gold standard in breast screening, breast MRI can be used to detect cancer at its earliest stages when it is used to screen patients with a high lifetime risk for developing breast cancer. Breast MRI also is used to stage patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer and to evaluate potential recurrent disease in patients who have had breast cancer. Breast MRI also can be used to evaluate whether or not breast implants are intact.”
The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends MRI examinations in addition to annual mammograms for women with a high lifetime risk of breast cancer. This includes: women with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation; a first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) with the above gene mutation; exposure to chest-area radiation between the ages of 10 and 30; or a lifetime risk for the development of breast cancer greater than 20% using the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool.
With his extensive clinical experience in screening and diagnostic mammography, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, breast pathology and interventional procedures, women can expect even more specialized care. Dr. Sherman, who completed fellowship training in breast imaging at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, is proficient in the advanced interpretation of image-guided biopsies with mammography and breast MRI. His education in the epidemiology, diagnosis, pathology and therapy of breast cancer give him credibility in identifying patterns of recurrence of malignant breast tumors.
Memorial Health System of East Texas is dedicated to providing women with technological advancements and the educational resources that expedite their road to recovery. To learn more about robotic hysterectomies or breast MRI go to www.memorialhealth.org. In addition, Memorial Health System of East Texas’ Youtube channel, easily accessed from Memorial website, contains videos from Dr. Carter’s recent robotic hysterectomy seminar and a robotic procedure.