BURNSVILLE, Minn. - A local doctor has invented a new technique, and a new device, that makes a certain type of hysterectomy safer.
Minimally invasive hysterectomy is attractive because recovery times are a couple weeks as opposed to up to a month and a half.
The problem is, to remove the uterus through a small incision, it has to be cut up into very small pieces, a process called morcellation.
The concern? Tissue or undiagnosed cancer cells can be left behind in the abdomen and it is believed, for some, this is causing abnormal growths or cancer later.
Dr. K. Anthony Shibley of OBGYN Specialists said he has invented a solution.
Instead of simply cutting up the uterus inside the body so it can be removed, Dr. Shibley uses a bag to surround it first.
"So any debris that gets spun around, any fluid or cellular material gets trapped and contained within the bag," he said.
In two years, he and his partners have performed the new technique on 200 patients using a bag already approved for general abdominal surgery.
And now he has also invented a refined version of the bag designed specifically for minimally invasive hysterectomies to make the technique simpler.
"There's a bag in development with a manufacturer out of Ireland that we should have FDA approval and on the market within the end of the year," he said.
Patient Melanie Lafferty is glad he used the technique with her.
As a busy mother of three, Lafferty needed a hysterectomy for a bleeding disorder. She wanted minimally invasive. For her, Shibley's new technique, "that kind of sealed the deal," she said.
"Having the surgery so young at 30, I want to know that this surgery when I'm 50 is not coming back to haunt me," she continued.
Shibley is getting national interest in his technique.
Some hospitals across the country have put restrictions on morcellation, unless a bag is used.
Shibley said other doctors are now trying his technique and he believes it's making minimally invasive hysterectomies much safer.