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New Milford Woman Reassured by Surgical Advances When Facing Cancer

Shohreh Shahabi, MD, FACOGShohreh Shahabi, M.D.
Chairman, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
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When Joan Johnen of New Milford discovered she had uterine cancer in 2012, she was surprised to find that advances in surgical technology would make her cancer surgery more tolerable than the C-sections she had years ago when welcoming her children into the world. Her gynecologist referred her to Shohreh Shahabi, MD, a specialist in gynecologic oncology at Danbury Hospital, who serves as Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, and Chair of Reproductive Tumor Biology Research Laboratory.

"I took my younger daughter with me, and Dr. Shahabi shared my options for surgery, including robotic laparoscopic surgery, which offered me the best alternative to ensuring that the cancer would be brought under control and I could recover with minimal discomfort. She shared a lot of details, so I had a lot to think about," Joan said.

Robotic or computer-assisted surgery is a specialized form of minimally invasive surgery using a system with three mechanical arms, a camera, a 3D image processing system and a remote control unit. Robotic surgery does not place a robot or computer in control of the surgery; the surgeon controls every aspect of the surgery at all times.

According to Dr. Shahabi, the precision of the robotic system gives surgeons better vision, maneuverability and control. Traditional open gynecologic surgery, using a large incision for access to the uterus and surrounding anatomy, has been the standard approach to many gynecologic procedures for many years. Yet, open surgery can bring significant pain, trauma, a long recovery process, and threat to surrounding organs and nerves. Over the last 3 and a half years, Danbury Hospital surgeons have performed more than 700 robotic surgeries.

According to Dr. Shahabi, the precision of the robotic system gives surgeons better vision, maneuverability and control. Traditional open gynecological surgery, using a large incision for access to the uterus and surrounding anatomy, has been the standard approach to many gynecological procedures for many years. Yet, open surgery can bring significant pain, trauma, a long recovery process, and threat to surrounding organs and nerves.

"Joan was a good candidate for robotic surgery, and she was able to avoid a significant amount of pain, discomfort and the extended time away from normal daily activities that usually follows traditional surgery. Overall, I think that robotic surgery can also help reduce a significant amount of worry and anxiety when this surgery is necessary," said Dr. Shahabi.

Beyond medication and non-invasive procedures, surgery remains the accepted and most effective treatment for a range of gynecologic conditions. These include, but are not limited to, cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, and menorrhagia or excessive bleeding. Robotic techniques for women include hysterectomy for early-stage gynecologic cancer and benign gynecologic conditions, as well as reconstruction of the uterus, vagina and supporting structures for improved function and gynecologic health.

As expected, robotic surgery helped Joan minimize the pain and risk associated with large incisions, while supporting a fast recovery and an excellent clinical outcome. She is also very satisfied with her care.

"My surgery was a one-day admission, and I went home the next morning. The incisions were small and easy to take care of. Although I was told to avoid lifting and to be careful for six weeks, I felt wonderful after about two weeks and started to do things around the house. It was easier than any other surgery, including when my children were born, and my foot surgery," Joan explained.

She added, "I would highly recommend robotic surgery for anyone who needs it. Dr. Shahabi was very thorough; she is a brilliant doctor and a very sweet person. I want to thank her and Danbury Hospital from the bottom of my heart."

For more information about Women's Services and Robotic Surgery at Danbury Hospital, visit online at DanburyHospital.org, or call 1-800-516-4743.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is the region's premier, patient-centered health care organization serving residents of Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. The organization is anchored by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital, as well as their affiliated organizations. In addition to the two hospitals, the continuum of care offered includes the following affiliates:

  • Western Connecticut Medical Group, an integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
  • Western Connecticut Home Care, an agency for home care and community health services
  • The Western Connecticut Health Network Foundations
  • emergency medical and Level II trauma services
  • an occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry
  • a nationally renowned Biomedical Research Institute

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in women's health, cardiovascular and cancer services; minimally invasive joint and spine surgery; digestive disorders, weight-loss (bariatric) surgery, and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for neonatology with a Level IIIb neonatal intensive care unit and accredited sleep disorder centers. Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns. Danbury Hospital was named a Top 100 Hospital by US News and World reports in 2012; a and a Top 100 for Value by Cleverly and Associates. New Milford Hospital is well known as a Planetree hospital and for its Plow to Plate, farm to table food program.

For more information, visit WesternConnecticutHealthNetwork.org, DanburyHospital.org; NewMilfordHospital.org and share your comments with us at Facebook.com/DanburyHospital or Facebook.com/NewMilfordHospital.

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Western Connecticut Health Network is conducting a capital campaign to meet patients' changing needs with next generation facilities, resources, talent, and technologies. Our priority areas are the Patient Tower, Emergency Department, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Danbury Hospital, the Emergency Department at New Milford Hospital, and the Biomedical Research Institute. To learn more, please call the Foundation office at (203) 739-7227 or visit us at TheCampaignForWCTHN.org.

Date posted - 08/02/2013