The option of having surgery to treat your endometriosis will usually be offered to you only after other treatment methods have failed to make the required impact. The type of surgery you have will depend on a number of factors, not least your plans for having children. In some cases, surgery is the only way that an endometriosis patient can hope to have a baby. In other cases, surgery is carried out purely and simply to relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms of endometriosis.
Surgery For Fertility
Endometriosis can stop your reproductive organs working properly. The excess growth of uterine tissue can cause scarring and distortion in the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Sometimes the fallopian tubes become so twisted that they are literally blocked, and no egg can travel down them to meet sperm cells after sexual intercourse. In other cases, a fertilized egg cannot implant successfully in the endometrial lining of the uterus.
An endometriosis patient seeking to get pregnant in this situation, having tried drugs and non-invasive treatments to no avail, might be offered one of two procedures: a laparoscopy or laparotomy.
This is a minimally invasive procedure aimed removing unwanted endometrial tissue and conserving your reproductive organs so that, hopefully, you will be able to conceive and carry a baby to full term. During this procedure, growths of endometrial tissue and scar tissue will be removed, and any organs that have become stuck together due to endometrial growths will be separated. It may not be necessary to remove all the endometrial tissue - only that which is stopping you getting pregnant.
The procedure is also referred to as keyhole surgery. A small incision is made in your abdomen through which a tiny camera is inserted. This allows the surgeon to watch what he is doing on TV-type screen. Then, through other small holes in the abdomen, other instruments are inserted and used to either cut away or burn away the unwanted tissue. Sometimes a laser is used for this purpose, sometimes an electrical current.
A laparotomy is basically conventional abdominal surgery. It's considered major surgery and it takes a lot longer to recover from than a laparoscopy. The surgeon makes a large cut in the lower abdomen in order to access the reproductive organs and excess endometrial growth, which he then removes. This type of surgery is usually reserved for very severe cases of endometriosis that has spread significantly around the body.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure used to eliminate endometriosis symptoms only when the patient's future fertility is not an issue. It involves major surgery and the removal of the uterus, leaving the patient unable to have children. In the case of endometriosis, the patient may be recommended to have her ovaries removed also - as this will definitively prevent the endometriosis returning.
Surgery For Severe Spread
In extremely severe cases, endometrial tissue has been known to spread into parts of the body located relatively far from the uterus - even the chest and lungs (although this is by no means the norm). If you have severe endometrial spread, you may have to have it removed by means different types of surgery appropriate to the part of the body concerned.