News | Published February 18, 2013 | Written by J. Frederick Doucette, MD, FACOG

Is minimally invasive surgery right for you?

Is minimally invasive surgery right for you? Great question!

Having been a gynecological physician/surgeon for over 17 years (five years in training and more than 12 years in practice) I have seen numerous changes in the field. Without a doubt, the biggest change has been the advancement of minimally invasive surgical options in women’s healthcare.

What is minimally invasive surgery? It is surgery that attempts to minimize the size of the scars. In a procedure such as hysterectomy, this means much smaller incisions on the abdomen. This usually implies a vaginal procedure or a laparoscopic one (often with da Vinci robotic assistance).

What are the benefits of minimally invasive surgery?

  • Shorter hospital stays with many procedures now being performed as an outpatient
  • Less pain medication required
  • Lower infection risk
  • Smaller scars
  • Faster recovery and return to normal life
  • Fewer complications, especially blood loss

With all the benefits listed, why did it take so long to make the vast majority of gynecological procedures minimally invasive? Many of the major procedures such as hysterectomy and myomectomy (removal of fibroids) required extensive skill and extra training beyond the scope of most gynecologists.

In the last three years, there has been a progression of advancement at Mount Nittany Health:

  • 2010: Laparoscopic hysterectomy program began
  • 2011: The da Vinci robotic minimally invasive program began
  • 2012: The robotic program took off with great success
  • 2013: The program is continuing to advance

Mount Nittany Health has transformed itself from a health system that did the vast majority (81 percent in 2009) of its hysterectomies abdominally (large incision, non-minimally invasive) to one where more than 90 percent of the hysterectomies and other major gynecological procedures are done minimally invasive.

So how do you know if a minimally invasive gynecological procedure is right for you? I would suggest that you talk with your doctor to see if it is recommended for you. Your physician may not recommend minimally invasive surgery due to the type of procedure required and/or your medical history.

In my opinion, the vast majority of gynecological procedures can be done this way, and if you follow the national trends, this is precisely the way gynecological surgery is moving in the United States.

For more information on minimally invasive gynecological procedures, visit