(11/09/12) - A doctor is hoping his carefully plotted plan will make one of the most common surgeries even safer.
Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery performed on women in the United States, and now, one surgeon is hoping to map out a safer - even faster - way to get it done.
When Mary Lou Olszewski was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she says, her dogs helped her through it. "They took good care of mom. They were there for me."
Mary Lou had a hysterectomy. Dr. Dwight Im used an approach he created and named the "Imsway".
He says it's a step by step plan that guides surgeons - like a map. "It's almost like saying, 'Well New York is northeast of Baltimore, I'll see you there.' Well, how do I get there?"
Surgeons often have trouble locating the urethra, which connects the kidney and bladder. Since it is so hard to see, there is a higher risk for injury in that area.
Imsway gives surgeons a better map around the urethra. "You know you can see it. That's how you know you are not touching or injuring it."
The result: a shorter surgery, about 30 minutes instead of several hours, and less bleeding. Dr. Im teaches the technique to surgeons all over the world, and hopes it will become the standard.
"In the end, it's the patients who benefit," Im says.
Mary Lou adds, "to me it was, this is not your mother's hysterectomy. I really feel that I got a lease on life."
Dr. Im has been using the Imsway technique for two and a half years and has performed more than 1,000 surgeries.
The approach can be used for open, laparoscopic or robotic hysterectomies.