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50 years of gynecologic surgery.

Over the past 50 years, there has been explosive change in gynecologic surgery. Ob.Gyn. News has been at the forefront of capturing and chronicling this paradigm shift in the treatment of the female patient.

Our beginnings

From antiquity, physicians and surgeons have struggled with pelvic prolapse, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, urinary incontinence, vesicovaginal fistulas, pelvic pain, and abnormal uterine bleeding. At the time of the first edition of Ob.Gyn. News, it had been less than a century since Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb; just over 50 years since Hans Christian Jacobaeus first created air pneumoperitoneum using a trocar, followed by the Nitze cystoscope; about 40 years since Richard Zollikofer created a carbon dioxide pneumoperitoneum; 25 years since F.H. Powers and A.C. Barnes had first described laparoscopic tubal sterilization by cautery; and about 20 years since Raoul Palmer, considered the father of modern laparoscopy, had first described the technique--left upper quadrant entry, testing insufflation, Trendelenburg positioning, and simple laparoscopic instrumentation.

In the 1950s, Hans Frangenheim would bring monopolar electrosurgery to laparoscopy and Harold Hopkins would introduce fiber optics. It was not until 1967 that Patrick Steptoe would publish the first textbook on laparoscopy in the English language.

Although usage as a diagnostic tool and a method of sterilization increased popularity of laparoscopy in the 1960s and early 1970s, there were few advances. In fact, a review of early editions of Ob.Gyn. News during that time period shows that the majority of articles involving laparoscopy dealt with sterilization; including the introduction of clips for tubal sterilization by Jaroslav Hulka in 1972. This did not deter the efforts of Jordan Phillips, who along with Jacques Rioux, Louis Keith, Richard Soderstrom--four early laparoscopists --incorporated a new society, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (the AAGL) in 1971.

Simultaneously, in 1979, James Daniell in the United States, Maurice Bruhart in France, and Yona Tadir in Israel were promoting efforts to couple the carbon dioxide laser to the laparoscope to treat pelvic adhesions and endometriosis. Later on, fiber lasers, KTP, Nd:YAG, and Argon lasers would be utilized in our field. Still, only a few extirpative procedures were being performed via a laparoscope route. This included linear salpingostomy for the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, championed by Professor Bruhart and H. Manhes in Europe, and Alan DeCherney in the United States.

During the 1980s, laparoscopic surgery was at its innovative best. Through the pioneering efforts of Professor Kurt Semm and his protegee, Liselotte Mettler, the gynecologic laparoscopist was introduced to endoloops, simple suturing techniques, and mechanical morcellation techniques.

Procedures such as salpingo-oophorectomy, appendectomy, and myomectomy could now be performed via the laparoscope. Dr. Camran Nezhat coupled the carbon dioxide laser, the laparoscope, and the television monitor, coining the term laparoscopy. Most importantly, the laparoscopic surgeon was liberated; he or she could remain upright and perform surgery with both hands. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Nezhat, Dr. Harry Reich, and other innovators pushed the envelope in increasing the ability to extirpate endometriosis, excise severe pelvic adhesions, and perform discoid and segmental bowel resection.

The day the earth stood still

Every gynecologic laparoscopic surgeon should remember Jan. 26, 1988, as that was the date that Dr. Harry Reich performed the first total laparoscopic hysterectomy. Now, little more than 25 years later, in many parts of the country, a laparoscopic approach to hysterectomy is indeed the most common route. Over the years, with the evolution of instrumentation, including new energy systems (ultrasonic, advanced bipolar) and the introduction of barbed sutures, hysterectomy can now be performed via minilaparoscopy, single-site laparoscopy, robot-assisted, and robotic single site, all of which have been featured in the Ob.Gyn. News' Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery.

But hysteroscopy came first

Abulkasim utilized a mirror to reflect light into the vaginal vault in 1000 A.D. In 1806, Philipp Bozzini originated the idea of illuminating body cavities by an external light source. Through a system of mirrors and tubes, candlelight could be reflected into the body. In 1869, D.C. Pantaleoni used a cystoscope developed by Antoine Desormeaux--who has been called the father of endoscopy--to treat endometrial polyps with silver nitrate.

Through the 50 years of Ob.Gyn. News and over the past 12 years of the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery, our community has been consistently updated as to advances in hysteroscopy, not only to enhance treatment efficacy, but safety as well. This has included such advances as the continuous flow hysteroscope, the Hamou contact hysteroscope, and fluid management systems to enhance visualization.

In 1978, Robert Neuwirth introduced loops to perform hysteroscopie myomectomy. The loop resectoscope was quickly followed by the rollerball to perform endometrial ablation. In the late 1990s, hysteroscopie bipolar cutting loops were introduced. This enabled use of ionic distension media saline, instead of nonionic media, thus decreasing risks related to hyponatremia.

In 2003, Mark Emanuel introduced hysteroscopie morcellation systems, which enabled more gynecologists to perform operative hysteroscopy safely. Resected tissue is removed immediately to allow superior visualization. The flexible hysteroscope coupled with vaginoscopy has enabled hysteroscopy to be done with minimal to no anesthesia in an in-office setting.

With advances in hysteroscopy over the past 35 years, hysteroscopie procedures such as polypectomy, myomectomy, lysis of adhesions, transection of endometriosis, evacuation of retained products of conception, and endometrial ablation/ resection have become routine.

And now, the controversy

Since its inception, laparoscopic surgery has not been without controversy. In 1933, Karl Fervers described explosion and flashes of light from a combination of high-frequency electric current and oxygen distension gas while performing laparoscopic adhesiolysis with the coagulation probe of the ureterocystoscope.

In the early 1970s, Professor Kurt Semm's pioneering effort was not rewarded by his department, in Kiel, Germany, which instead recommended he schedule a brain scan and psychological testing.

Nearly 20 years later, in a 1992 edition of Current Science, Professor Semm, along with Alan DeCherney, stated that "over 80% of gynecological operations can now be performed by laparoscopy." Shortly thereafter, however, Dr. Roy Pitkin, who at the time was president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, wrote an editorial in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology --"Operative Laparoscopy: Surgical Advance or Technical Gimmick?" (Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Mar;79[3]:44-12).

Fortunately, 18 years later, with the continued advances in laparoscopic surgery making it less expensive, safer, and more accessible, Dr. Pitkin did retract his statement (Obstet Gynecol. 2010 May; 115[5J:890-1).

Currently, the gynecologic community is embroiled in controversies involving the use of the robot to assist in the performance of laparoscopic surgery, the incorporation of synthetic mesh to enhance urogynecologic procedures, the placement of Essure micro-inserts to occlude fallopian tubes, and the use of electronic power morcellation at time of laparoscopic or robot-assisted hysterectomy, myomectomy, or sacrocolpopexy.

After reading the 2013 article by Dr. Jason Wright, published in JAMA, comparing laparoscopic hysterectomy to robotic hysterectomy, no one can deny that the rise in a minimally invasive route to hysterectomy has coincided with the advent of the robot (JAMA. 2013 Feb 20;309[7]:68998). On the other hand, many detractors, including Dr. James Breeden (past ACOG president, 2012-2013), find the higher cost of robotic surgery very problematic. In fact, many of these detractors cite the paucity of data showing a significant advantage to use of robotics.

While certainly cost, more than ever, must be a major consideration, remember that during the 1990s, there were multiple articles in Ob.Gyn. News raising concerns about the cost of laparoscopic hysterectomy. Interestingly, studies over the past decade by Warren and Jonsdottir show a cost savings when hysterectomy is done laparoscopically as opposed to its being done by laparotomy. Thus, it certainly can be anticipated that with more physician experience, improved instrumentation, and robotic industry competition, the overall cost will become more comparable to a laparoscopic route.

In 1995, Ulf Ulmsten first described the use of tension-free tape (TVT) to treat stress urinary incontinence. In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the TVT sling in the United States. Since then, transobturator tension-free vaginal tape (TVT-O) and single incision mini-slings have been introduced. All of these techniques have been shown to be successful and have been well adapted into the armamentarium of physicians treating stress urinary incontinence.

With the success of synthetic mesh for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence, its use was extended to pelvic prolapse. In 2002, the first mesh device with indications for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse was approved by the FDA. While the erosion rate utilizing synthetic mesh for stress urinary incontinence has been noted to be 2%, rates up to 8.3% have been noted in patients treated for pelvic prolapse.

In 2008, the FDA issued a warning regarding the use of mesh for prolapse and incontinence repair secondary to the sequelae of mesh erosion. Subsequently, in 2011, the concern was limited to vaginal mesh to correct pelvic organ prolapse. Finally, on Jan. 4, 2016, the FDA issued an order to reclassify surgical mesh to repair pelvic organ prolapse from class II, which includes moderate-risk devices, to class III, which includes high-risk devices. Moreover, the FDA issued a second order to manufacturers to submit a premarket approval application to support the safety and effectiveness of synthetic mesh for transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse.

Essure micro-inserts for permanent birth control received initial approval from the FDA in November 2002. Despite the fact that Essure can be easily placed, is highly effective, and has seemingly low complication rates, concerns have been raised by the Facebook group "Essure Problems" and Erin Brockovich, the focus of the 2000 biographical film starring Julia Roberts.

After more than 5,000 women filed grievances with the FDA between November 2002 and May 2015, based on unintended pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, severe pain, and bleeding, the FDA announced in 2016 that it would require a boxed warning label for Essure. The FDA also called upon Bayer, which makes and markets Essure, to conduct surveillance to assess "risks of the device in a real-world environment." The agency stated that it will use the results to "determine what, if any, further actions related to Essure are needed to protect public health."

While Jan. 26, 1988, is a very special date in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery, April 17, 2014, is a day of infamy for the gynecologic laparoscopist. For on this day, the FDA announced a warning regarding electronic power morcellation. Many hospitals and hospital systems throughout the country issued bans on electronic power morcellation, leading to needless open laparotomy procedures and thus, introducing prolonged recovery times and increased risk.

At a time when the recent introduction of barbed suture had made both closure of the vaginal cuff at time of hysterectomy and repair of the hysterotomy at myomectomy easier and faster, the gynecologic laparoscopist was taking a step backward. The FDA based this decision and a subsequent boxed warning --issued in November 2014--on a small number of studies showing potential upstaging of leiomyosarcoma post electronic power morcellation. Interestingly, many of the morcellation procedures cited did not use power morcellation. Furthermore, a more comprehensive meta-analysis by Elizabeth A. Pritts and colleagues showed a far lower risk than suggested by the FDA (Gynecol Surg. 2015; 12[3]: 165-77).

Recently, an article by William Parker and colleagues recommended that the FDA reverse its position (Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Jan; 127[l]:18-22). Many believe that ultimately, the solution will be morcellation in a containment bag, which I and my colleagues have been performing in virtually every power morcellation procedure since May 2014. During this current power morcellation controversy, the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery has continued to update its readers with three different articles related to the subject.

And in conclusion

Without a doubt, the past 50 years of gynecologic surgery has been a time of unparalleled innovation with occasional controversy thrown in. Ob.Gyn. News and more recently, the Master Class in Gynecologic Surgery, has had a major leadership role in bringing this profound ingenuity to the gynecology community by introducing this explosion of surgical creativity to its readers.

And what will the next 50 years bring? I believe we will continue to see tremendous advancements in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. There will be a definite impact of costs on the marketplace. Thus, many of the minor minimally invasive procedures currently performed in the hospital or surgery center will be brought into office settings. In addition, secondary to reimbursement, the more complex cases will be carried out by fewer gynecologic surgeons who have undergone more intense training in pelvic surgery and who can perform these cases more efficiently and with fewer complications. Our ability to perform surgery and what type of procedures we do will not only be based on randomized, controlled trials, but big data collection as well.

Dr. Miller is clinical associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and past president of the AAGL and the International Society for Gynecologic Endoscopy (ISGE). He is a reproductive endocrinologist and minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon in private practice in Naperville and Schaumburg, III.; director of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery and the director of the AAGL/Society of Reproductive Surgery fellowship in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, III.; and the medical editor of this column, Master Class. Dr. Miller is a consultant and is on the speakers bureau for Ethicon.

Caption: Prior to the advent of operative laparoscopy, Dr. Charles E. Miller utilized loops and the operative microscope to perform delicate infertility surgery.

Caption: Essure

Caption: Professor Kurt Semm performs an early Demonstration of operative laparoscopy.


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Title Annotation:Master Class
Author:Miller, Charles E.
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Jun 1, 2016
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