A little ‘Girl Talk’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2006

VRMC host women’s health seminar

By Cassandra Mickens

The Selma Times-Journal

Email newsletter signup

It wasn’t all chick chatter at Vaughan Regional Medical Center’s first-ever “Girl Talk” Women’s Health Seminar in the hospital’s office tower classroom Thursday.

Local gynecologist William Deavor, urologist William Sherrer and interventional radiologist Mark LeQuire – all male MDs – spoke of minimally invasive medical procedures for common female ailments.

Deavor, who began the evening’s talk, gave a short lecture on dysfunctional or excessive uterine bleeding – a disorder when a woman has her menstrual period every 10 to 12 days instead of every 28 days “with no obvious cause,” he said. Women diagnosed with dysfunctional uterine bleeding have a total blood loss exceeding 80 milliliters per menstrual period – which may exceed the standard four to seven days. Women with normal menstrual periods lose less than 60 milliliters of blood.

Deavor said hormonal intervention, a hysterectomy or endometrial ablation are all treatment options for dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Less than a year ago, Deavor began performing endometrial ablations using a new device called the NovaSure Impedance Controlled Endometrial Ablation System. During the procedure, Deavor removes the endometrium or lining of the uterus – the source of dysfunctional uterine bleeding – using controlled amounts of radio frequency energy. While the treatment itself lasts approximately 90 seconds, Deavor said the outpatient procedure lasts 20 to 30 minutes, citing the trip to the operating room until the procedure is over. Patients are released from the hospital the same day.

“A relatively pain-free treatment,” recovery time is roughly one month and patients are given a 10-day course of antibiotics to prevent infection. Patients are advised not to douche or have sexual intercourse for one month, Deavor said.

Deavor added endometrial ablations could be a safe and simple alternative for those wary of a hysterectomy, which entails a four to six week recovery time and a prolonged hospital stay.

Deavor concluded every woman is not a candidate for this procedure, saying women who plan to bear children, have fibroids or intrauterine adhesions should explore other treatment options with their physicians.

Incontinence Treatments

During his brief presentation, urologist Sherrer talked about stress urinary incontinence and urge incontinence, defining incontinence as “the involuntary loss of urine.”

Stress urinary incontinence involves urine leakage while sneezing, coughing or laughing while urge incontinence involves a person’s overwhelming need to urinate at inopportune times. Sherrer said more women suffer from incontinence or overactive bladder than men, citing pregnancy, childbirth, and hormone changes all cause urine leakage.

Sherrer has been performing two treatments to cure incontinence in women. First, Sherrer uses a Monarch urethral support sling for stress urinary incontinence. Made of a soft mesh material, the sling is placed under the urethra and functions as a hammock on which the urethra rests to prevent accidental urine leakage, Sherrer said. Audience members were able to take a close look of the sling used in the procedure, which resembles a long piece of sticky tape. To insert the sling, Sherrer makes incisions in the vagina and the groin.

“It’s a safe, effective operation that takes about 30 minutes on an outpatient basis,” Sherrer said.

After inserting the sling, Sherrer urges patients to not engage in heavy-duty work, exercise or sex for six weeks.

Sherrer cures urge incontinence using the Medtronic InterStim Therapy,

a small electrical system implanted under the skin near the tailbone that provides stimulation and modulates nerves to the bladder. Once the device is implanted, the stimulation can be adjusted or deactivated by the patient at home or by a physician. Sherrer describes Interstim as a “pacemaker for the bladder” and said patients may have to replace the device every seven years, considering its battery life.

Before the device is implanted permanently, Sherrer said patients may opt for a test stimulation for long-term InterStim Therapy is considered.

Aside from wound care, there is “no real restriction” following the procedure, Sherrer said.

Osteoporosis Treatments

Last to take the “Girl Talk” floor was interventional radiologist LeQuire, who spoke about balloon kyphoplasty, a treatment for osteoporosis – a silent disease that makes bones prone to fracture.

“An extremely painful condition,” osteoporosis is more common in “whites and Asians and tends to spare other races,” LeQuire said.

Using a hollow instrument and small orthopaedic balloons, LeQuire elevates bone fragments of fractured vertebra and returns them to their correct position.

Patients are given a local or general anesthesia and the procedure usually lasts less than an hour. An overnight hospital stay may be required, LeQuire said.

LeQuire said many patients who have undergone balloon kyphoplasty are able to “resume daily life and have relief of their pain and added the procedure has a 95 percent success rate.

Uterine Fibroid Treatments

Turning away from osteoporosis, LeQuire concluded his presentation with a PowerPoint slideshow on uterine fibroids – benign or non-cancerous tumors of the uterus that range from a size of a pea to the size of a melon or larger. According to medical literature provided by LeQuire, “it is estimated that 20 percent to 40 percent of women 35 years of age and older have fibroids. Although most do not cause symptoms, uterine fibroids can cause problems for some women who have the condition.” LeQuire added fibroids are frequent in African-American women, a group where risk factors are as high as 50 percent.

LeQuire then introduced a treatment known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) – a non-surgical therapy designed to preserve the uterus. During UFE, LeQuire explained a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin. The catheter is then led by the physician up to the uterine artery and injects small particles. These particles, LeQuire continued, travel into the branches of the uterine artery and blocks blood from reaching the fibroid. Eventually, the fibroids shrink and symptoms subside.

“Recovery time is one week,” LeQuire said, adding the first 24 hours are the most difficult.

LeQuire said women should know their options by visiting two UFE Web sites – www.ask4ufe.com and www.fibroids1.com.

Following the speakers’ presentations, VRMC Marketing and Public Relations Director Zaneta Lowe retrieved surveys distributed to guests prior to the seminar. If survey results are positive, the hospital may extend “Girl Talk” to a year-long series.