Gynaecologist performs a first-for-SA procedure

Gynaecologist Dr Paul Blaauwhof successfully performed the country’s first laparoscopic pectopexy operation at Netcare Rosebank Hospital, in Johannesburg, recently. Picture Credit: Supplied
Gynaecologist Dr Paul Blaauwhof successfully performed the country’s first laparoscopic pectopexy operation at Netcare Rosebank Hospital, in Johannesburg, recently. Picture Credit: Supplied

Gynaecologist Dr Paul Blaauwhof has successfully performed the country’s first laparoscopic pectopexy operation at Netcare Rosebank Hospital in Johannesburg recently.

The operation is to help women who have developed pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

POP is a condition where the internal pelvic organs of a woman descend from their usual positions in the body. In severe cases, a bulge may be felt inside the vagina or the organs may descend to protrude from the vagina.

About 50% of women will develop POP, women who have had at least one vaginal birth, are obese, or belong to the Caucasian ethnic group are most at risk of developing this condition.

“Many women do not realise that they have a prolapse and in many cases doctors only diagnose it during an examination,” Dr Blaauwhof explains. “For women who have severe POP, on the other hand, there may be some anxiety and embarrassment about the physical symptoms. Often women do not complain about the discomfort that accompanies the condition and, for various reasons, delay seeking treatment.”

Women who experience POP may have a predisposition to: 

  • Urinary tract infections because of residual urine remaining in the bladder.
  • A feeling of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area,
  • Pain during sexual intercourse, lower backache and a sensation of heaviness or pulling associated with organs sagging into, or out through the vagina.

Women who have this surgery must avoid weight-bearing exercise and sexual intercourse for approximately six weeks while the area heals, but thereafter can resume normal activities.

“While there are advances in the surgical techniques available to treat this common condition, it is important to remember that surgery is a last resort. With early detection, and appropriate physiotherapy, it is often possible to prevent pelvic organ prolapse from getting to the stage where it needs to be surgically corrected,” he says.

“This highlights just one of the many reasons why it is imperative that women should have regular gynaecological check-ups,” Dr Blaauwhof concluded.

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