April 3, 2012
Urinary incontinence in women can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. One condition called vesicovaginal fistula is caused by a tear in the wall separating the vagina and bladder. The condition can have a devastating psychological impact, especially in young women. Often caused by surgical complications (more than 50% of these fistulas occur after hysterectomy), radiation treatment, or childbirth, vesicovaginal fistulas usually require surgery to repair the opening.
Together, two Catholic Health surgeons, urologist Kevan Sternberg, MD, and gynecologic surgeon Ali Ghomi, MD, recently performed their second successful robotic-assisted vesicovaginal fistula repair at Sisters of Charity Hospital.
The new minimally invasive procedure provides women with an alternative to conventional abdominal or vaginal surgery resulting in less pain, less scarring, shorter hospital stays and quicker recoveries.
Both conventional surgery methods have their drawbacks – abdominal surgery involves a long incision through the belly, while the fistula is sometimes difficult to access vaginally. Regardless of the approach, vesicovaginal fistula repair is a challenging procedure for many surgeons due to the complexity of the procedure, the few number of cases to gain proficiency, and the difficulty accessing the surgical site.
Robotic surgery solves these problems, offering surgeons superior visualization with a magnified 3-D view of the surgical site and the exacting precision of robotic technology.
Drs. Sternberg and Ghomi were the first surgeons in the area to successfully perform a robotic-assisted vesicovaginal fistula repair and have done two procedures at Sisters Hospital.
Both patients were discharged from the hospital after a 24-hour observation period.