UF&Shands named Center of Excellence in minimally invasive gynecology

The minimally invasive gynecological surgery service within UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, has been named a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology, a field focused on reducing complications and speeding up recovery times following surgery.

Housed within the UF College of Medicine department of obstetrics and gynecology, the new Center of Excellence received the designation from the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, or AAGL, in October. To receive the distinction, centers must display commitment to the field, as demonstrated by a high surgical volume, adherence to safety standards, low complication rates and a consistent surgical team under the direction of board-certified surgeons trained in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery.

“This designation highlights the fact that our center exceeds what other hospitals and gynecologists are able to offer and is committed to helping women obtain the best care possible,” said R. Stan Williams, M.D., chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology.

Minimally invasive surgery makes use of tools and techniques such as laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and robotic surgery to perform surgical procedures with smaller incisions or no incisions, which typically translates to less pain and speedier recoveries for patients.

“We want to make sure we do what is best for our patients and that they are aware of all their options,” said Nash Moawad, M.D., M.S., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, head of minimally invasive gynecologic surgery in the UF College of Medicine and director of the new Center of Excellence. “Historically, most surgeries were performed through large incisions, but through significant strides in specialized training, science and technology over the past two decades, almost all gynecologic surgeries can now be performed through a minimally invasive approach. In spite of this, over half of hysterectomies in the community are still performed through large incisions, so we strongly advocate patient education and awareness of their options and we empower women to ask questions and seek the least invasive solutions for their gynecologic problems.”

One of the goals of minimally invasive gynecology is to preserve a woman’s reproductive organs if she hopes to have children in the future, said Moawad, who completed a fellowship in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“Examples of this approach include removal of ovarian cysts while conserving the ovaries, removal of fibroids while conserving the uterus, and complete removal of endometriosis while conserving all reproductive organs for childbearing,” he said. “Our aim is to be conservative and not remove anything that does not have to be removed.”

Even if future fertility is no longer a goal, a minimally invasive approach is almost always feasible for hysterectomy, treatment of ovarian cysts, abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain and prolapse, he added.

The magnification and high-definition technology used in minimally invasive surgery also enables surgeons to pinpoint abnormalities and find subtle pathology that cannot be seen during traditional open surgery.

Aside from the honor of receiving the designation, Moawad said the process leading to it proved to be a transformative experience for the entire team. This process involved a high level of education and helped staff members and surgeons align their focus.

“At the end of the day it is the patient who is reaping the benefits,” Moawad said. “Our patients are getting excellent care.”


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April Frawley Lacey's picture

April Frawley Lacey

Editor / College of Medicine Science Writer

Editor of The Post and a medical writer in the HSC Office of News & Communications. Before joining the HSC News & Communications staff, she was a reporter and assistant...Read More