Atrium Health Introduces First-in-Region Hysterectomy Method – with Faster Recoveries and No Abdominal Incisions

03.03.2021 Atrium Health News

Atrium Health is the first hospital system in the Carolinas to offer a new type of hysterectomy that offers patients the advantages of both vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies: vNOTES, Vaginal Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery.

With vNOTES, the initial incisions are made vaginally, and then a vaginal hysterectomy is performed with laparoscopic instruments. The result is a quicker, less painful recovery for patients and no abdominal incisions, according to Jerry Matkins, M.D., an Atrium Health physician who specializes in gynecology and minimally invasive gynecological surgery, and who was the first in the region to perform this procedure.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends the vaginal hysterectomy as its preferred hysterectomy method due to its low rate of complications. Some surgeons, however, prefer the improved visualization that cameras provide during laparoscopic hysterectomies. This procedure offers both: fewer complications after the procedure and increased visualization during it.

“The doctor gains all the visualization benefits that come with a laparoscopic procedure while making it even less invasive,” Matkins says. “There are no abdominal incisions. It’s just a friendlier surgery on the body.”

A friendlier surgery means faster recovery times for patients. Dr. Matkins estimates that patients spend about half as much time in the recovery room after this outpatient procedure compared with patients of laparoscopic hysterectomies. In a recent study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 77% of patients left the hospital within 12 hours of vNOTES surgery, compared to 43% who had total laparoscopic hysterectomies. Patients also return to their regular activities faster after a vNOTES surgery, which means less time away from work and less time requiring caretakers.

“Some of these patients aren’t taking a single narcotic after their surgery,” Matkins says. “This also means less exposure to pain medications. The fewer of those medications we need, the less we run into the derivative problem of opioid addiction.”

To ensure that the availability of vNOTES meets the growing demand for it, Matkins is training more surgeons at Atrium Health in performing the procedure. As the only hospital system in the area that offers it, he expects to get more regional patients traveling here for vNOTES.

“I'm looking forward to this being the way that people get back to doing vaginal hysterectomy, which is the best hysterectomy method for the patient,” Matkins says. “This furthers Atrium Health’s reputation as being the best  in the city and in the region for women's health care. We have an unbelievable group of doctors and administrators who are bringing new and innovative care to our patients.”

For more information about vNOTES or to book an appointment, please call 704-446-7800.