After a life changing 90-minute operation and an overnight stay in HMC’s Women’s Hospital, a young mother was able to return to work, travel again and play with her children.
Like many other women, this patient suffered from a pelvic organ prolapse. The condition which typically presents itself in older women occurs when tissue supporting the pelvic organ including the womb, becomes weak.
“After my second pregnancy, I started feeling more and more uncomfortable every day. I had severe back pain and even worse, I couldn’t control my own bowel movements. I didn’t know what was happening and I had nobody to talk to,” said the 27 year old mother of two.
Common causes of a pelvic organ prolapse include childbirth, lower levels of estrogen at menopause, being overweight and chronic illnesses such as lung disease, which create pressure inside the abdomen from coughing. Affecting many women, most have no idea there is a problem until years later, when the muscles weaken with age and are no longer able to hold the organs in place.
“Although up to half of women are thought to suffer to some degree from a pelvic organ prolapse, far fewer seek help. Those that do are typically offered a hysterectomy which requires the removal of the womb,” said Dr. Ayman Elnaqa, Senior Consultant and Subspecialist in Urogynaecology and Pelvic Floor Reconstructive Surgery at Women’s Hospital.
After being referred to Dr. Ayman, the patient was given the option of undergoing a procedure called a Sacrohysteropexy. A minimally invasive technique done robotically or through an open surgical procedure, a Sacrohysteropexy is performed under general anesthetic to put the womb back into its normal position.
“This procedure when done robotically or through a minimally invasive approach offers the patients a much better alternative because it requires a shorter operation and a shorter recovery time,” said Dr. Ayman. “A hysterectomy does not correct the weakness in the support mechanism of the pelvic organs and is associated with other negative side effects. With this new innovative surgery, the patient’s womb will stay in place and there are associated psychological benefits, especially in premenopausal women,” he added.
Since joining HMC in June 2015, Dr. Ayman and his team have performed several of these life changing procedures for the first time in Qatar and the region. Presently, a Sacrohysteropexy is only carried out by a fraction of gynecological surgeons because of the limited number of clinicians who can perform the surgery.
“It is unfortunate how many women of all ages suffer in silence, sometimes for years and do not seek help for fear of embarrassment or lack of knowledge about the possible solutions,” said Dr. Ayman. It is very important that we are able to empower women by giving them various treatment options for a better quality of life,” he said.
“My patient was able to resume her daily routine without difficulty and no longer experiences any pain. She can play with her children now and her grandchildren in the future, and never be in fear of the pain associated with a pelvic organ prolapse. My hope is that more women will recognize that a hysterectomy isn’t their only option,” added Dr. Ayman.
The Women’s Hospital Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Unit opened in June 2015 and offers advanced diagnostic and treatment options for women who suffer from incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and perineal trauma during childbirth. The unit provides the latest uterine preservation surgery (preserving the uterus instead of carrying out a hysterectomy) in cases of uterine prolapse.
“I left Women’s Hospital the day after my surgery with no pain or side-effects. I noticed the difference immediately. I really can’t thank Dr. Ayman and his team enough for performing this procedure and changing my life. I would definitely recommend it to other women who are suffering,” says the mother of two.