Surgery: The uterus is pretty cute

Last week I had a chance to observe a 2-in-1 surgery.

There was an elderly lady with colorectal cancer who needed to have a high anterior resection. In this surgery, the sigmoid colon and part of the descending colon are removed. The remaining descending colon is then anastomosed (re-attached) to the rectum.

This woman also had a large lesion in her uterus and would need to have a hysterectomy (removal of her uterus) as well. It was decided that both surgeries would be done laparoscopically (minimally invasive surgery done through a number of small incisions, also known as keyhole surgery) and at the same time.

After the colorectal team finished mobilizing (freeing) the colon, the gynaecology team took over and removed her uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The colorectal team then came back and finished the surgery, taking out the part of her colon with cancer and reattaching the remaining parts.

The other medical student observing the surgery with me told me to expect the uterus to be really cute. So tiny with its little fallopian tubes and ovaries. I have to say, she was right! How amazing that such a tiny thing can carry babies for 9 months. This woman had had 6 children!

I asked permission to take this picture. You can see the uterus with the fallopian tubes and ovaries (white oval structures). And if you look closely, you can even see some cysts, with clear fluid in them.

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3 thoughts on “Surgery: The uterus is pretty cute

  1. sylvia says:

    So sad. Why is it ok to remove women’s reproductive organs, and it’s just ho-hum. But we think doing it to men…making them eunuchs…there’s even a name for it….is cruel and horrible, and everyone knows that it will change them…make the fatter, change their voices, etc. But when it’s done to women, well, everything should be fine, when reality is you just screwed her up hormonally for life! But there is no name for it, and doctors will tell her that all the changes are just normal and she should live with it. Craziness.

    • Sandra Nguy says:

      Hi Silvia,

      I think it’s never okay to remove anything (from a medical point of view) unless it’s indicated. In this woman’s case, she was 70+ years old, post menopausal (ovaries no longer active/producing hormones) and certainly wasnt going to become pregnant. In addition, she had an abnormal growth (not a normal change) that could cause complications like heavy bleeding, pain and even turn into cancer (which you cant let her live with). After discussion between her and the team, both agreed that the surgery would provide more benefits than harm.

      Orchidectomy (loss of testes) in young boys can can lead to the features you see in castrated eunuchs because they lacked the hormones needed to go through puberty. If the man has already passed puberty, you would not see those characteristics. With that being said, orchidectomies would only be performed if the life of a boy/man is at risk (ie. testicular cancer, death of the testicle following testicular torsion, etc) and hormone supplements can be given to counter the side effects.

      Any kind of surgery is crazy, really if you think about it. But it’s often necessary in order to save/prolong the life of a patient and/or give them a better quality of life. And of course, the patient is always the one to decide whether to get surgery, after being fully informed about the benefits and risks.

      • sylvia says:

        When you are 70+ we’ll see if you still think you don’t need your hormones :-). And plenty of women have hysterectomies without understanding how devastating it will be to their lives. I think you have way too much faith in how fully informed those decisions are. And how most “female” problems can be solved by lifestyle changes rather than medical one…like surgery and medication. But, oh, yeah, I forgot…there’s no money in that.

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