• 81°

Hysterectomy procedure first for Gray, KDMC

Soon others will catch on, the procedure will become morewidespread and someone else may even do it better, but Brookhaven’sDr. Leigh Cher Gray will always be first.

Gray, one of the four physicians comprising Brookhaven OBGYN, inApril became the first doctor in Mississippi to perform asingle-incision hysterectomy, the least invasive method of theprocedure that turns what once was a long and painful recoveryperiod into a stitch-up-and-go operation. Crossing the finish linefirst in this area of women’s health required the will andknow-how, the perfect patient and some new technology called theGelPOINT system.

“I think it just lets people know that just because we’re in asmall town, we’re not behind on technology,” Gray said. “You canstill get great health care right here in small Brookhaven.”

Traditionally, removing a patient’s uterus has required either twovertical incisions around the belly button area or one long,horizontal “bikini cut,” all of them sliced to a length of 6-8inches. Gray said those cuts are painful to recover from and leavenoticeable scars.

Even when Brookhaven OBGYN began practicing laparoscopic surgery -abdominal surgeries utilizing tiny cameras inserted through smallincisions – about four years ago, procedures still required four,1-centimeter incisions, replacing two big scars with four littleones.

In March, Gray and her associates discovered a way around the cuts.That’s when a representative from Applied Medical shopped aroundthe GelPOINT Advanced Access Platform, a small medical device thatallows single-port entry into the body.

The system requires a single incision below the belly button ofabout 2 centimeters, through which a circular membrane is insertedinto the body. The membrane has a long sleeve that unfurls to aplastic loop, like a sewing hoop, to which the instrument’s cap isattached, creating an airtight tube into the body. The GelPOINT’scap has three adjustable arms through which a laparoscopic cameraand two instruments can be inserted.

Once the system is in place, carbon dioxide is pumped through thetube and into the abdomen, blowing up the body slightly to pushorgans apart and allow physicians more room to work. The entireGelPOINT system is disposable.

“It allows you to do the same procedure with generally the sameinstruments,” Gray said. “The device stretches the incision andyour instruments can through that gel and still be airtight.”

Gray said the advantages of the single-incision GelPOINThysterectomy are that patients experience less pain in the recoverystage and little to no trace of the operation is left behind.

“The belly button is the least painful area. There’s no muscle togo through, and the healing process of muscle is painful,” shesaid. “There’s also a natural fold in the belly button, so most ofthe time patients can walk away without scarring.”

The GelPOINT system isn’t the answer to every patient’s prayers,however.

Gray said the old method of performing hysterectomies would neverbe replaced. The single-incision procedure will only work on theright patients.

Gray’s first single-incision patient was a 37-year-old tri-athletein great condition, the “perfect candidate.” The patient, whom Graydid not identify, wanted to get back into shape as quickly aspossible and chose the new procedure.

Gray performed it at King’s Daughters Medical Center in April, andsince then Brookhaven OBGYN has performed the procedure two moretimes.

KDMC Chief Executive Officer Alvin Hoover applauded his doctors andtheir work, saying women’s health services is an important part ofthe hospital.

“It’s typical of the medical staff at our hospital to want to be onthe cutting edge. We’re not letting health care pass us by, we wantto be out there at the front,” he said. “We want to continue tomake sure we can provide all the services our community needs righthere at home.”