Shot of a young woman experiencing stomach pain while lying on the sofa at home

Endometriosis is a disease in which uterine-like tissues grow outside of the uterus and become inflamed with the menstrual cycle. It can be difficult to diagnose due to its vague symptoms of lower abdominal pain, abnormal menses and fatigue, and an operation is necessary for a definitive diagnosis. As a result, many patients see multiple specialists before finding relief. Xiaoming Guan, MD, PhD, division chief and fellowship director of minimally invasive surgery at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is an expert in minimally invasive surgery for endometriosis. “I am dedicated to endometriosis in my career and my research,” he says, and it shows. 60-80% of his clinic cases and surgeries are endometriosis.

Why minimally invasive surgery matters for endometriosis

Dr. Guan’s expertise in minimally invasive surgery, where small incisions and assistive devices overcome the necessity for a large incision, is part of his key to success. “The difference between minimally invasive surgery and open surgery is evidence-based: less pain, minimal blood loss, faster recovery and better cosmesis (appearance),” he says. It can also lead to a more accurate diagnosis due to magnification of surgical view. For example, endometriosis on the diaphragm is very difficult to be seen during an open operation with a lower pelvic open incision, however, with a small incision and a robotic camera, these lesions can be found and treated with one operation.

New treatment options for endometriosis

Treatment is another aspect of endometriosis that can be difficult for physicians and frustrating for patients. While endometriosis is not curable, surgical removal of endometriosis lesions are a mainstay of management. “The surgery can be more difficult than cancer surgery,” says Dr. Guan. “Go to an expert. Shuffling around makes the disease worse and more painful and wastes time.”

With multiple publications on minimally invasive surgical treatment of endometriosis to his name, Dr. Guan and his team are happy to be that expert for their patients and dedicated to advancing endometriosis care nationwide. His team published an article with an associated stepwise video demonstration of the novel robotic assisted natural orifice transluminal endoscopy surgery (NOTES) for hysterectomy and subsequent removal of distant endometriosis lesions. His team continues to use this technique and other minimally invasive procedures to provide optimal outcomes and minimal pain to endometriosis patients.

March is endometriosis awareness month

Given the difficulties in diagnosing and treating endometriosis, educating patients and physicians about this disease is essential to improving care. During the month of March, there will be many opportunities to learn about endometriosis and find a community with others who suffer from this disease. For example, Baylor College of Medicine in partnership with Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, Endometriosis Foundation of Houston and “Endo What?” will bring a screening of the endometriosis documentary “Below the Belt” and a panel discussion to Houston on March 4th. “Nancy’s Nook” is another valuable resource for finding a physician and connecting with other patients.  If you are concerned that you or someone you care about might have endometriosis, don’t hesitate to see an expert like Dr. Guan at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.

See an endometriosis specialist if you have:

  • Severe period pain not relieved with over-the-counter medications
  • Period-related pain in other areas, such as the bowels or urinary tract
  • Family history of endometriosis with period pain
  • Persistent pain after endometriosis surgery
  • Persistent deep sexual pain unexplained by a gynecologist
  • Chronic infertility issues

To make an appointment or see the doctors at Texas Children’s Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery, call Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women at 832-826-7500.