HSN introduces laser surgery for pelvic pain

Women’s health is taking an important step forward in northeastern Ontario

New surgical procedures for treatment of endometriosis at Health Sciences North are being introduced by Dr. Abheha Satkunaratnam and Dr. Stephen Morris including the use of the JPlasma tool. This new technology significantly reduces damage to surrounding tissue when compared with deployment of traditional methods.

BY HUGH KRUZEL

Health Sciences North (HSN) is now providing advanced laparoscopic surgery to treat endometriosis which affects a woman’s pelvic region and is often painful and may affect her ability to have children.

Normally, endometrial tissue lines the uterus, but in some cases, it is also found elsewhere in associated organs, potentially becoming irritated, developing scarring, adhesions – including abnormal fibrous bands – and/or cysts.

While surgery is often recommended for moderate to severe endometriosis, surgeons, up to now, had to navigate so precisely in very delicate areas.

Excision gave way in the 1980s to pulsed lasers. Though units delivered the desired cautery, seen as a large leap forward, they also had their own drawbacks.

Early lasers had the negative attribute of thermal damage to surrounding tissue while ablating lesions or disease.

As a result, surgery sometimes had results that were less than optimal. Up until now, complex cases across Northern Ontario were being referred to major centres such as Toronto or Ottawa; no longer. Women’s health is taking an important step forward in northeastern Ontario.

New surgical procedures were introduced to HSN through a partnership between Dr. Stephen Morris in Sudbury and Dr. Abheha Satkunaratnam of St. Michael’s and Women’s College hospitals in Toronto.

Morris, a skilled laparoscopic surgeon, trained under Satkunaratnam during his surgical residency in Toronto. Satkunaratnam is one of Canada’s leading gynecologic surgeons and the first to use the J-Plasma tool. HSN is only the second centre in the country to use this equipment for endometriosis surgery.

Using helium, an inert gas, passed over an energized blade, it still cuts, coagulates, and vaporizes, but at a much lower temperature. Its consistent behaviour and outcomes, rapid transition from one function to another and precision can reduce the need for repeat procedures. Patients report experiencing less pain, fewer complications, and quicker recuperation times.

“We always worry about patients having to travel, so I think it would be a great thing to push the boundaries a bit and offer more complex surgery for women with this type of health problem,” said Morris.

“Generally in Canada, women’s health – especially benign health – is low on the priority list, in terms of service, and access to innovative procedures and technologies,” added Satkunaratnam.

“Because HSN is a regional referral centre, which serves such a large catchment area, it’s ripe to offer these kinds of advanced procedures.”

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