Scripps Doctor Performs First Belly Button Hysterectomy in San Diego

Single-site hysterectomy leads to less pain, faster recovery and less scarring

Scripps robotic surgery technology makes it possible for a woman to get an entire hysterectomy, surgical removal of the uterus, through the belly button.

For almost three decades, Heather Wilson has dealt with heavy, painful periods that have severely impacted her life. All that ended this month, when Wilson became the first person to undergo a single-site hysterectomy at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

Scripps ob-gyn Anupam Garg, MD, on March 14 removed the 37-year-old’s uterus through a single, quarter-sized incision in her navel using a da Vinci surgical robot. During the robot-assisted surgery, a single port was placed in the incision and the da Vinci robotic operating arms were then inserted through the port. Dr. Garg sat at a nearby console and remotely manipulated the surgical instruments attached to the robotic arms. A powerful camera provided magnified images of the structure being operated on and the surrounding nerves and tissues.

“All the things that are normally done in surgery – cutting, clamping or sewing – can be done with these really small instruments through that one incision,” said Dr. Garg. “As a result, the robotic-assisted single site hysterectomy offers less pain and blood loss, fewer complications, less risk of infection, less scarring and a quicker recovery times.”

Wilson, a corporate event planner, has been wrestling with debilitating menstrual cycles for the majority of her life. She had undergone several methods of treatment and nothing helped, so after careful research she decided to undergo a hysterectomy.

“I’m so excited that I can move forward with my life now. Before, everything had to be carefully planned out,” said the San Diego resident. “I also want to spread the message that there are options available and as women we need to educate and advocate for ourselves as patients.”

Hysterectomies are the second most common surgical procedure for women in the United States and an estimated one third of all U.S. women will have a hysterectomy by age 60.

“This new method provides a safer and more precise procedure with the added benefit of only making one small incision, instead of performing an open hysterectomy or having to make three or four small incisions with a traditional laparoscopic procedure,” said Dr. Garg.

The surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to go home the same day, or they may require an overnight stay in the hospital. Most patients are also able to resume regular activities, including returning to work within one to two weeks, and are expected to make full recovery within four weeks.

In addition to Dr. Garg, Scripps ob-gyns Mel Kurtulus, MD, and Bruce Kahn, MD, perform this procedure.

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Lisa Ohmstede

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